Life is the final word in our Lenten Photo-a-day devotionals.
The thing is, in the light of the empty tomb and Jesus presence and promise to us, it really is the last word!
We, well at least I, tend to think of a phrase like “the final word” as the end.
The whole point if Easter is not endings, it is life. God’s final word to us is not doom and gloom, but life!
I have been privileged to be a part of literally hundreds of funerals. Some for family members, some for folks I have never met, most though were for members of the congregations I have served as a pastor. One of the well-worn phrases I use in my funeral sermons is that in baptism death is not the last word, it is not the end of the story.
In my funeral sermons, I do try to tell a story, well two stories. The first is the story of who they were in this life. I know some pastors don’t like to share people’s stories in worship, even a funeral, but I find it helps keep people’s attention, when grief and hopelessness threaten to overwhelm. I use a lot of past tense stuff here. Jane was a great cook and shared her gifts with her family, remember… or Grandpa was a grumpy old German, who’s heart was as tender as… well, you get the point. The fullness of their humanity is important to their story.
I often turn the corner here though. This is where I tell the second story. I mention that I have been using the phrase was, and I now shift to is, the present tense. Here is where the proclamation of the Gospel, the joy of life even in the face of death is unveiled. Because there is no was in Baptism. In baptism we remain, and we entrust our loved ones to a God who is all about life, who is not a was, but is an is! Grammatically I know that is a nightmare, but it is the truth! Even in death they remain children of God, heirs to the promise made sure in the life of Jesus Christ who is even now alive and present for us.
On Easter morning, our worship spaces are often full of flowers, plants actually, living plants because Easter is about life! Easter then is all about life, the tomb remains a reality, but that tomb is empty for He is risen, He is risen indeed! Alleluia. Life, now that is a final word I can live with!