Why, on a day when we celebrate the grave being empty, am I sharing photos of a grave being filled? It seems contradictory, but it isn’t really. We arrived at the cemetery after a beautiful funeral service for our infant son filled with our hope in the resurrection by the death and resurrection of Christ – the same thing we joyously remember today. But there was a slight problem. The coffin was so small, and the straps that were brought to lower it into the grave don’t work very well on the little coffins – they can slip easily causing the casket to tip over or fall. So Pastor Wolfmueller asked two of the other pastors in attendance (Pastor Flamme and Pastor Ross) if they would be willing to place the casket in the grave instead. They agreed.
After a few Scripture passages, a hymn, some prayers, all reminders of the promises of Jesus that this isn’t the end, it was time for the burial. Without hesitation, these pastors *jumped in* and carefully received this child to be laid to rest, gently lowering him into the ground. It seemed like nothing much – but it was monumental to me. My friend, Jaime, said it well. “It’s profound to see the living in a hole made for the dead. It’s profound to see pastors unafraid of leaping into a grave. It’s profound to see pastors willing to lay Sebastian down, knowing Christ will raise his body up someday. It’s profound to see men who are Shepherds of their church, holding the baby as Christ holds us. Such good leadership. Such good service. Such good reflections of Jesus.”
These men, these pastors – Christ’s representatives here on earth – they weren’t worried about jumping into a grave, because there’s nothing to fear in death. An “eternity-now focus” as Heidi said. Because of the risen Christ we celebrate today, it’s not the end of the story.
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
(1 Corinthians 15:50-57)
The King James version of verse 55 asks, “Oh grave, where is thy victory?” Where is it?
It doesn’t exist.
Thanks be to God! Christ is Risen!