It’s the Lord’s Day morning and I have a window that looks out over the Oswego River. This morning I am going to attend church at the Oswego Reformed Presbyterian Church. They are a grieving congregation. This past week they lost an elder to the sting of death. Last night my colleague from the seminary and I attended an evening meal. Afterward we spoke about the ministry of the seminary and then there was a time of fellowship. All of the people we spoke with told us something about the elder who went on to glory. Like Hebrews 13, they remembered their elder who had spoken the Word to them and they were considering the outcome of his life.
This morning my colleague and I are headed to church. He will preach on Lamentations. Dr. Williams recently completed a book on Lamentations and he is going to preach from chapter three. I am looking forward to it. There are many reasons why I might look forward to hearing him. For example, he has invested a great deal of time in trying to understand the text both before and during a sabbatical he took in order to write a book on the subject. But it is not for that reason or others similar that I am looking forward to hearing him preach to this congregation today. It’s because he has experienced grief himself to a degree that, for some of us, is hard to fathom. In the space of months, he has lost several people that are dear to him to the sting of death, including both parents. I can’t think of a better person to minister to these brothers and sisters.
It’s interesting that we are living in a day of the individual. Individuality is king. So many people want to be different from everyone else. Often a little attention to language shows us the irony of life. Individual used to mean indivisible. A person is part of something from which he or she can’t get away. All individuals are born into the human race. What is more, the human race is all under the curse of sin and death due to our first father, Adam. In that sense, death is the great leveler. As long as the Lord tarries we will experience its sting.
However, those who are in Christ have a better hope. Those who are in Christ are part of His body. We belong to Him. In fact, when the risen Christ appeared to Paul at the point of his conversion, the Lord said, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Obviously the “me” in that sentence refers to his body, the church. And last night, as we spoke to those brothers and sisters it was easy to detect the hope that they have in Christ.
This morning I am eager to get to church and listen to my friend proclaim with clarity and the gentleness becoming of a good shepherd the hope that one can have whose life is hidden in Christ. This morning that is my hope for many who are going to church. May you hear the name of the risen Christ like sweet music to the ear, like honey to the tongue, like a note of joy.