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September 4, 2020

“The Lord bless you and keep you.” Numbers 6:24

Yesterday, under a beautiful blue sky, I stood at the graveside of Dwight, a member of Grace. The funeral service, conducted in the cemetery’s chapel, was over. The servicemen had folded and presented an American flag. As the committal service continued, my voice caught in the same place it always catches:

In sure and certain hope of the resurrection to eternal life through our Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to almighty God our brother Dwight, and we commit his body to the ground; earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

The Lord bless him and keep him.
The Lord’s face shine on him with grace and mercy.
The Lord look upon him with favor and + give him peace.
Amen.

In these words we see the finality of death named and then overturned. Earth to earth. This life is over, and there’s no use pretending otherwise. But then, the words of the Aaronic Blessing are reshaped as promise and blessing to the deceased. Instead of “you,” we hear “him” or her.” In Christ, the promise speaks the dead back into the hope of resurrection life.

Until that final moment, when the trumpet sounds and Christ returns, Dwight and all the blessed dead shall be kept safe in the hope of Christ. They are not lost. Neither shall we be lost. We go down to the dust to bury our dead. We, too, shall return to the dust. But Christ will not lose a single speck of that dust, will not lost any sheep of his flock, will not let us go. Alleluia!

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of life, in the death and resurrection of your Son you have swallowed up death forever. Give us hope when we mourn, faith to cling to your promises, and courage to work for life in this world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: A blue sky. This picture was taken by me in Slovakia in 2018, and I think it looks a bit like heaven might.

From → COVID-19

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