Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Death and Resurrection
I’m becoming far too good at funerals. A lot of practice just lately. I pretty much have the United Methodist liturgy memorized.
“Dying, Christ destroyed our death. Rising, Christ restored our life. Christ will come again in glory…” And so on.
In a Service of Death and Resurrection, “the facts of death and bereavement are honestly faced, and the gospel of resurrection is celebrated in the context of God’s baptismal covenant with us in Christ” (from the UM liturgy). In other words, we cry and laugh at the same time. There is no emotional language to adequately describe that sensation, laughing with tears running down your cheeks, crying with a smile on your face. But that’s what happens at funerals. We cry because of the pain; we laugh because of the love. And vice versa.
This week Christians live out the death and resurrection of Jesus. Death on Friday, resurrection on Sunday. In just three short days, death and resurrection, the whole kit and kaboodle. Wow. Seems so, I don’t know … anticlimactic, doesn’t it?
I had a memorial service today, another on Friday morning. Seems like we’ve been doing about one per week the past two months. That’s a lot of death. Kind of sucks your energy out, you know? More than that, it just kind of sucks. I’m drained.
There is a prayer in the liturgy that says, “Help us to live as those who are prepared to die. And when our days here are accomplished, enable us to die as those who go forth to live, so that living or dying, our life may be in you, and that nothing in life or in death will be able to separate us from your great love in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
To live as if I am prepared to die…
At a funeral, you tell stories about the person who has died: funny stories, sad stories, ordinary stories mostly. “You remember the time when …” “I love how she always used to …” “One thing about Daddy, he always said that …” Then you laugh together, sharing the memory, sharing the life. And you cry, sharing the pain, sharing the death. And somehow in the midst of that you experience resurrection. Maybe not fully, maybe not crystal clear, but you get a glimpse, anyway.
Maybe that’s what Easter should be, just a group of Jesus’ friends sitting around telling stories about the way he used to feed the hungry and heal the sick, laughing and crying at the same time, glimpsing resurrection.