What Will Your Last Words Be?

“Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him”
Acts 8:2 NIV
All throughout the centuries, God’s people have gathered at the graveside (and more historically recently, the church and funeral homes). They have honored, remembered, grieved, and reflected on the sacred gift of life. The graveside is a place of undeniable reality; a place of painful surrender and unwanted separation. The graveside is also a place of beauty and hope, of sacred peace and Christian victory.

Taking time to mourn, celebrate, and surrender life is an important part of “Good Grief!” It is also an important opportunity to bear witness to our hope in Jesus Christ. I love the priestly and prophetic opportunities that come from these moments. To speak along with the prophet Isaiah, “Comfort, comfort my people," says your God. "Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and that her sins are pardoned” (Isaiah 40:1-2 NIV), is to offer priestly consolation and comfort from God’s tender heart and hands.

Speaking soothing words of grace is a balm of healing for people’s troubled lives. And yet, we need more than comfort. We need hope! To speak with clarity and sincerity the prophetic words of Jesus, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25-26 NIV), is to acknowledge our need of Jesus’ saving grace and to testify to our hope that he alone is our way, truth, and life!

One of the greatest privileges I have as a pastor is to speak on behalf of those who “die in the Lord” (Rev. 14:13). Using the faith and life of a saint to lift up a comforting and hopeful witness to eternal life in Jesus Christ is a powerful priestly and prophetic moment in my life! Can you imagine the influence of scripting your voice on paper, or video, one last time so that when family and friends gather to remember, mourn, and celebrate, we would have one more opportunity to hear from you; to receive your faith, and witness for what matters most in life?

Your last words matter! I am asking my OHFUMC family to take seriously your service plans. Many people will do extensive planning for the actual funeral arrangements, but never leave any instructions or reflections for the service of resurrection worship. I would like to invite you to pay tribute to your faith in Jesus Christ, your hope for unsaved relatives and friends, and your testimony to God’s unconditional love for all people in any state of life.
We can keep on file (at church) any service plans you want, and any message you have to share with loved ones and friends.

We are getting ready for two amazing and important back-to-back memorial services in our church family. Norma Case Edens on Saturday, March 16th, at 1 pm, and Patty Encinas Williams on Saturday, March 23rd, at 11 am. At these two special services, we will hear, remember, and honor the sacred rhythms of these two precious saints' lives and of the faith and hope they stirred in many. I hope you will come out and join in our celebrations.

I have scripted final thoughts for my departure. I undoubtedly will update and revisit them down the road as I live longer and have more to share. But here is our great opportunity. In both life and death, we are called to be witnesses for Christ. Please take some time to prayerfully consider what you might want said on your behalf about your hope in Jesus Christ at your service of resurrection celebration!

Sharing Good News of Jesus…in Life and Death!

Pastor David 😊

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