Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Friends

One of the challenges of serving as a minister to senior adults in a church in which this segment of the population is amply represented is that of having to say goodbye to them as they complete their earthly journey and are welcomed into God's presence.  Having served on the staff of our church now for ten and a half years, I've come to know, appreciate, and deeply love these wonderful folks who in many cases have been walking with the Lord for six or seven decades or even longer.  Today we'll celebrate the life of the third member in the last ten days to have moved from "pilgrim status" here in this world to being at home with the Lord in heaven.  Each one of them has left a huge hole in the lives of their families by their departure, as each touched countless lives by their kindness, acts of service, and love for God, their family, and others.

When I witness the peace with which these folks faced their approaching death, I'm reminded of a story told about John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church.  A man approached Wesley one day, asking him how he could become a Christian .  Wesley led him to profess his faith in Christ of course and to experience God's forgiveness through salvation.  Afterwards, Wesley asked the man why he had sought him out to ask how to be saved.  The man responded, "Because I've observed that your people die well."  

I'm reminded as well of a wonderful passage in Heb. 2:14-15 that speaks of one of the purposes of Christ's coming into the world and what He accomplished through His death on the cross.  The writer of Hebrews states, Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.  If there's one thing that characterizes the majority of those living who don't know Christ as Savior, it's an absolute, overwhelming fear of death.  For the believer who knows Jesus as Lord, death holds no such fear because Christ through His resurrection has forever vanquished this enemy.

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