life from buried death

16 03 2011

Life is a complex thing. We don’t need Brian Cox eulogizing over CGI images of guess-work to know that. The universe is complex, human life is complex. I have had a crazy week last week, which included losing my hard drive and back-up to a computer virus, a council Local Committee learning about 20% cuts to our waste collection, preparing to preach on God breaking his own rules in Ruth… and the funeral of a man in his 20’s who committed suicide.

God was present in all those situations. From the most mundane to the most unusual. From rubbish bins to the bowels of grief. That is the great thing about a God who is present, not absent; who chooses to be here, not over there.

People often blame God for not being present when things go wrong. And often, unintentionally, these same people are those who place God high up in heaven and his angels on a cloud and keep him far away only to brought down and shouted at every now and then for not being closer. Who can blame them, unless they have been shown something else? And who can show them, except us?

So at the funeral I tore up my usual funeral talk, broke protocol by standing with the congregation and not behind the lectern, waited for God to give me the right words, whilst praying it really was God that encouraged me to do this. Minor risks, within a Sunday congregation of friends. But a funeral among non church-going strangers is the last place you want to make an error of judgment. Many live in bitterness towards God and the church over such errors of judgment for years afterwards.

I told of Jesus who hung out with those who struggled with life, who chose to be among those at the margins of society, among those others found difficult to understand; I told of Jesus who wasn’t afraid of grief, of tears; who was not far away from suffering looking at us with a pitiful, sympathetic whimper but chose to stand in the middle of the pain, and is right here, right now. That is the Jesus to whom we pray; that is the Jesus in whom we can entrust our overwhelming grief.

The Jesus who came to bring life from buried death; life now, and life after now.

I believe the Holy Spirit was at work. Times like these turn the conundrums and mysteries of our funeral ministry into kairos moments, special moments, treasured moments.

We finished the burial, and I left to try and sort out the less life-changing death of my computer hard drive. On the way from the graveside a family member joked about my windswept hair. I took that to mean the risk had been worth it.




2 responses

16 03 2011

I am so glad you stood with these people and felt their grief – I am sure standing with them, as opposed to above, them made a great difference – I know it would to me.

17 03 2011
Ana Maria Achucarro

I like your approach and we miss you and your missus

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