Do you find comfort from visiting a cemetery where a loved one is buried? Dear friends of mine do. They go and replace flowers, sit by the marker, and talk about the comfort of that place. Several people in my family do that.
I don’t. In the summer of 2003, our church camp for kids was located just 5 miles from the cemetery where my mom was buried. It was a very large place and I had only visited once before, but a maintenance box was nearby, and it was my waypoint in finding her grave among the hundreds of roads, trees, and granite markers. I made a trip up to visit our campers and see what was going on with them, and I drove up a little early so I could stop by her grave.
I walked up to the place where a stone marker had been installed just a few weeks earlier and saw my last name in large lettering, then noted her name and the two dates of parenthesis representing her life. The grass was starting to grow back over the broken earth. I’m not sure what I was expecting as I came to that plot, but I remember VIVIDLY what I said out loud as I walked up to that broken ground.
“Oh Mama, I don’t know why I’m here. YOU aren’t here. You’re with Jesus. If I thought you were really here, I would be devastated. I am wasting my time while you are having the time of your life! I miss you, but I’ll be seeing you!” And I walked away. I have never returned. I have never needed to do so.
THAT’s what Easter has the power to do; it takes a grave and robs death of its power. It turns mourning into anticipating, grief into the relief of gladness and comfort, and broken earth into hope that heals our sadness one day at a time. I have missed her and so many others whose time with me has been paused by their death. But the resurrection of Jesus changes that and I think more about what WILL be than WHAT WAS. I think more about their comfort than my sadness, their JOY more than my waiting. THAT’s the power of Resurrection Day.
On that sunny day surrounded by granite, new-growing grass, and fire ants, I experienced the thoughts of Paul personally:
O death, where is your victory? O death where is your sting?
Thank God! He gives us victory over sin and DEATH through our Lord Jesus Christ!
THAT’s what we celebrate this weekend! I hope you’ll join me for that great celebration.