As the time approached for me to get to the funeral, I was beginning to feel some resistance to my attending. It seemed I was pushing the envelope, doing things before I had to start getting ready. But I need not have been concerned. I was home when I needed to be to shower and get ready.
While showering and getting ready, I began to experience thought distractions, “Why are you going to this? There’s no point in going. You’re really going just to…” You all know the kinds of thoughts these are.
At one point I almost believed the lies, and thought perhaps my motive for going wasn’t as pure as I was pretending. But then I realized I heard the Lord tell me he wanted me to go, and the evil motives I was being accused of didn’t occur to me when I heard the call. I arrived about thirty minutes early, knowing it was going to be a packed house.
Soon the music began and as I sat in that hot church and listened to the instrumentals of the old hymns I was suddenly struck with a joy and a sense of belonging. I suddenly realized I love the church and its people as a whole, and I loved being a part of the Wesleyan denomination.
It’s true that our history is filled with people who have made mistakes and have certainly not loved or lived as Jesus called us to love and live; we are, after all, still on this side of heaven and we’re fighting a spiritual war. Sometimes we are bruised and bloodied and sometimes we are victims of “friendly fire”; other times we’re the ones shooting at our brothers and sisters.
The people who are called Christian and truly seek to obey Christ are also people who are beautiful and who are people I am looking forward to spending eternity with.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer called the church The Community of Faith. Of this community of faith, he said, “The community of the saints is not an ‘ideal’ community consisting of perfect and sinless men and women, where there is no need of further repentance. No, it is a community which proves that it is worthy of the gospel of forgiveness by constantly and sincerely proclaiming God's forgiveness...”
As I sat in that church and laughed and cried with the family who lost Dad and Granddad and all those of my community of faith, I felt a calling to love more deeply these who share the Christian belief. I felt the calling to be more obedient to the call of Jesus and to the Father’s commands for me.
For me 2012 had too many bon voyages, some have not been the celebration that this particular funeral was and one hit really close to home.
I grieved with the Colaws at the loss of C.B. He was a great man of God. I will always grieve at the loss of my own dad. But we have a hope and joy in knowing we’ll see these again, as well as those we never knew who were the unknown influence on our choosing to belong to the community of faith in Jesus.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminded us that, “There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve -- even in pain -- the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.”