From Pastor's Perspective

cemetery

You may have heard me share stories of my Aunt Maureen. My aunt served the church as a Roman Catholic nun. She served wherever in the world God called, from the inner city of Chicago, to the poorest areas of South America and Japan. My aunt played a big part in my discerning my call to serve as pastor.

My dear aunt died in August of 2014. She was buried on her birthday. After a spirit-filled funeral mass, friends, family and the other sisters walked to the cemetery. Scripture was read and prayers said, then we laid Aunt Maureen to rest. Walking away from the grave all of us felt sad. That is until one of the older sisters spoke up in the clearest, loudest voice she could muster,

“Best birthday ever.“

My aunt had a lifetime of some pretty good birthdays. But walking from the cemetery I knew that sister was right. Because after many good birthdays as a little girl, after some pretty good birthdays shared with colleagues in Chicago and friends around the world, this was Aunt Maureen’s best birthday ever. Because now this faithful servant rested in the hope of the resurrection and Christ’s promise, “…because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19)

Last year I read a devotion written by Pastor Justin Lind-Ayres. Pastor Justin serves on campus at Augsburg College, Minneapolis. Allow me to share an excerpt of Pastor Justin’s devotion. 

In New Orleans, among other southern communities, brass bands have a traditional role in funerals. In The Music of Black Americans: A History, Eileen Southern wrote, "On the way to the cemetery it was customary for the band to play a dirge very slowly and mournfully ... but on the way back the band would strike up a lively spiritual." This practice mirrors Psalm 30,

God turns our mourning into dancing.

In the promise of Christ Jesus, weeping does not linger and the dark night of the soul meets the dawning day.

In Christ, the brass band's dirge is transformed into a lively, jazzy march that moves us to sway to the Spirit. In Christ the sackcloth of death and the grave can be the “best birthday ever.”  For we are God’s people clothed in the promise and the steadfast love of Christ.

Thanks be to God,   

Pastor Tom