Over a period of what seems to be many weeks, the church has journeyed through what the psalmist described as ‘the darkest valley.’ Those who have travelled with us are no longer there, and we miss them. We miss their welcome and encouragement, their working alongside us. We have known their love, we have stood alongside them in worship, and we have knelt in prayer together and have opened the Bible and delighted in its truth and guidance. In many ways they have shared their lives with us. In different ways they have served their God and sought to have shared their living experience of God’s love in the gift of Jesus, their Saviour and Friend. The preciousness of their memory will go on in our continuing journey as a church.
This journey is one of faith. Our comfort, peace and hope are God’s gifts to us in the darkness of saying ‘good-bye’. But we are not in despair. In just a few weeks’ time it will be Easter. Part of it, of course, was a journey of loneliness, pain and darkness. Jesus, the Son of God takes agonising steps ever closer to the Mount of Crucifixion. There on the cross hangs the Son of God, personally innocent but lovingly taking our place: giving himself as a substitute for us, his life blood poured out that we might live. Astonishing! Love beyond words or understanding!
Then there is Easter Day with its glorious message that God has raised Jesus from the dead: up from the grave, the tomb is empty. Now everything is bathed in the light of a new day. This victory over our last, greatest and most feared enemy now becomes real for us through our faith in the Jesus of the cross and empty tomb. Now alive and ever-living we can know him personally. And when we do we receive new life, abundant life and a life that will never end. One day he will gather all his people and we will be together with the Lord forever.
In the meantime, we continue to pray for those who were closest to those no longer among us, and we pray for ourselves too: that God will grant peace and joy and the glorious assurance of eternal life.
Blessings and Love