Passages for a Graveyard
We have now been worshipping at our new church facility for a month and it may be feeling a little more like “home” to you. It is to me. And our new home has a graveyard. My daughter Naomi doesn’t particularly like it at night. She finds it “creepy.” And maybe that is how you see graveyards. Or maybe you don’t think much about them … they are merely an historical artifact, a place to be avoided or only visited during the necessary graveside service or annual trip to see the grave of a loved one. Maybe you wish we didn’t have one – why would a church named Living Hope want to be saddled with a property containing so many dead bodies? Are we sending a mixed message? Aren’t we about the living? the Gospel? the Kingdom of God? What do gravestones and the dead have to do with that?
Well, many people over time in many different church traditions have expressed their “views” on this … modern evangelical churches don’t seem too interested in having graveyards on their properties and so the jury seems to have concluded that these graveyards just get in the way of what God is doing – not worth the effort. I don’t agree with that assessment although I would venture to say that most people don’t care :) …
I am glad we have a graveyard. A graveyard is a place that reminds us every Sunday morning of the futility of worldly pursuits, the certainty of death, the need for salvation, the hope of the resurrection … I have highlighted some Scriptures that speak to these things at the end of this article. Could I encourage you to think about passages such as these as you walk through the graveyard? And as you do this, why not praise the gracious God who “roused thee from thy fatal ease,” as Francis Scott Key wrote, and having died for you, drew you to Himself. Brothers and sisters, look at the graveyard and know with certainty that the grave is not the end for the Christian, but that death has lost its sting, and because of the work of Christ, we shall live forever and ever.
“A voice says, ‘Cry!’ And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’
All flesh is grass and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:6-8)
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
“… even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together in Christ – by grace you have been saved – ” (Ephesians 2:5)
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
“Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet shall sound and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.” (I Corinthians 15:51-52)