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In 14 years, I've presided over more than 100 funerals. Easter gives me hope.At the church I pastor, older folks in the congregation mostly just call me “Pastor,” because older folks still call their pastors “Pastor” or maybe my name isn’t all that important compared to my holy vocation or maybe they’ve seen so many pastors come and go that remembering names is a bit touch and go.I, for my part, call them “senior saints.” It is a reminder to me that I am not the first one to walk down this narrow path (Matt. 7:13–14).My calling as Christ’s shepherd is to proclaim his death and resurrection for the healing of the world. Although this gospel message seems familiar enough when I say it from the pulpit, it takes on new power when I visit parishioners whose bodies are failing.Some years ago, I went to see a congregant named Tom in the hospital. I remember how his face lit up when I brought him communion—the same communion in the same type of beat-up, old, portable communion kit that he himself had brought to hospitals for years when he served the church as an elder. We mouthed the familiar words together: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it , in remembrance of me.” For whenever you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. (1 Cor. 11:23–26)A couple of years later, my new wife, Rachel, and I found ourselves living next door to Tom’s widow, Charlene. She died clutching a small wooden cross that I ...Continue reading...
In 14 years, I've presided over more than 100 funerals. Easter gives me hope.
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