Dear Friends, I wrote this a couple of weeks ago, planning to post it today. And then the Connecticut shooting happened. And we’re reeling, wailing, mourning, grasping for answers and comfort. No words are adequate. So I want to be clear that this post is not in response to recent events, but nevertheless, I pray may be some small encouragement.
Here’s the thing. I hate funerals. I avoid them like a cat avoids water. I really don’t like them.
I know they’re important and showing up to grieve with the family is good, but still…I’m just being honest.
Friday I had to go to a funeral. The son of some friends of ours was killed riding his bicycle. We love them and our kids grew up together. It was just a freak accident, as they say.
Corey was a troubled young man who struggled with mental illness all his life, and so, in a sense, his death was a relief from his torment, an escape to peace with Jesus who he had claimed as his Savior.
Still…Both John and I had a hard time getting through the service.
As the words of Mark Shultz’s song “He’s My Son” bounced off the windows of our beautiful sanctuary decorated with greens and twinkle lights for Advent, we thought of our own girls, our own prayers, our attempts to protect them, our parenting mistakes…
I’m down on my knees again, tonight. I’m hoping this prayer will turn out right…
Can you hear me? Can you see him? Please don’t leave him. He’s my son.
How do you make sense of it all? How do you survive the death of one of your babies?
I just don’t know.
But here was the biggest thing about Friday and that funeral... In the midst of that tremendous, palpable pain at church, there was also an overwhelming sense of ….Emmanuel.
Yes, Emmanuel. God with us.
God with us in the face of every person there.
I looked around the sanctuary and I saw so many people who bore a resemblance to Jesus. Like how people in the same family share similar eyes or nose, or expressions.
The 86 year old pastor and his wife who baptized Corey and provided a welcoming church home. The teachers and small group leaders and mentors who tried to walk alongside him and love him well. And the countless friends who had prayed for Cory and with his parents while he lived, and hug the family now in their grief.
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”
God came down as a baby two thousand years ago and He’s still here with us. In the mess and muck of life. And death.
And that’s why it’s important to show up. Because we’re the reminder to each other that He’s still here in Spirit.
We’re the ones to wipe each other’s tears away and look forward to the day when He will come again and “there will be no more death, or mourning, or crying or pain.”*
And although some days the darkness seems to win, it will not overcome the light.
Emmanuel. God with us. Even at a Christmas Funeral.
Where are you seeing Jesus this season?