Thursday, November 24, 2011

Death and Thanksgiving

"Jesus wept."  The shortest sentence in the Bible shows Jesus demonstrating some very human emotions as he wept before the tomb of His friend, Lazarus.  He wept because His friend was dead.  He wept because of the pain and grief felt by Lazarus' sisters and friends.  He wept because the wages of sin is death.

He wept, even though He knew that in just a moment, He would raise Lazarus from the dead, proclaiming His mighty power over death.

The death of friends and loved ones affects us all, even our Lord.  This morning, I awoke to the news that my friend Holly had passed away last night after a nearly two year battle with ALS.  There are so many things I could say about Holly, but mostly, when I think of her, I remember her kindness and her unbelievable ability to see the best in people.  Being the recovering pessimist that I am, this was always good to see.  She had a passion for sharing the Gospel with people, but she also had a passion for people.  She LOVED people.  She loved them with her words, with her deeds, with her beautiful singing voice.  She was an Optimist of the First Degree.

And this morning, she is wrapped in the arms of the Lord.  She is where she most wanted to be in this life: with God.  She has been made perfect.

I rejoice in this!

But I weep as well.  I weep because of sin.  I weep for her loved ones, her husband and young daughter who have to navigate the rest of this life without her.  I weep, even though  I KNOW that Holly is alive with Christ.  I know that I can ask for her prayers and that she prays even more perfectly now than she did in this life. I know that she has joined that Great Cloud of Witnesses.

I *hope* that I weep for the same reasons that Jesus wept.

I think that was never more human and yet more divine than when He wept before the tomb of Lazarus.  He felt such human emotions for divine reasons.  May it be like that for all of us!

Orthodox Christians all over the world sing the great Paschal proclamation year after year: "Christ is Risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs, bestowing Life."  The icon of the Resurrection depicts the shattered tombs of the departed under the feet of Jesus.  He stands upon them holding Adam and Eve firmly in His grasp, Satan bound and defeated in the darkness.

On this Thanksgiving holiday, I'm going to try and keep this image in my mind.  It would be easy to continue to weep at Holly's tomb, but I will try to remember this victorious icon and how this is now REALITY for my friend.

A blessed Thanksgiving to all and may Holly's memory be eternal!