Whistling past the graveyard

George was a member of our church for 77 years. Anytime the subject of church came up, no matter where he was or who he was with, George would say “First Church is my church.” At a time when most people are afraid to speak about their faith, George proclaimed it proudly, joyfully.

George passed away last week. I will miss him and his bragging about our church very much.

At his memorial service, his family asked me to include a reading by English pastor Henry Scott Holland called “Death is nothing at all.” Holland’s words have comforted many people for over 100 years.

The thing is, if death is really “nothing at all,” why does it hurt so much to lose someone we love? For many people, telling themselves that death is nothing is whistling past the graveyard.

But the Christian hope is infinitely more than ignoring reality, putting on a happy face, or insisting that everything will turn out fine in the end. Christian hope is not like betting on the lottery, on the one-in-a-million chance that we might win.

Christian hope is grounded in the reality of a God who is utterly reliable. It is based on the fact that God stepped into the world in the person of the God-man, Jesus Christ,  who experienced poverty, suffering, loss, abandonment, and death.

Jesus hated death so much than he came from heaven to earth to defeat it. Henry Scott Holland knew that death is not nothing. But he also knew that because of Jesus, death is on the way out. Because of Jesus, we will see our loved ones again.

I’m looking forward to hearing George brag about our church.

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