Summary: FCF: These words mean something. Responding to two deaths in our congregation this week, as well as the Amish tragedy - God’s word really makes a difference!
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me; 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way.
This week has seen a great deal of loss for many in our church. The most obvious, of course, is that Marian Triplett passed away yesterday at 5:30. But others have lost other dear friends this week too. I’ll admit to still being in shock over Joy Verzi’s death, I miss Glenn Noffsinger, I miss Marvin Creel. I could keep going on and on with those who have left to be with the same Lord I so eagerly desire to see. But here on earth, there has been too much mourning recently. It is easy to become numb.
I know it sounds like a cliché when I remind you that Jesus himself said ‘Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.’ I know you know that Paul exhorted us ‘Let us not mourn like those that have no hope.’ There is a resurrection, and we shall see them again. I am especially reminded of Romans 8, in which we learn that our present sufferings are not worthy to be compared to the glory that is to come. Especially in times of loss, we need to focus on our heavenly home, and not here.
If you would indulge me a few minutes, I have to tell you that I have learned something this week – and that it is not to underestimate the true power of those words. If we will take those words seriously, if we will let God’s power echo in our hearts, we can be transformed people of which the world must take notice.
Like many of you, I grieved at what happened up in Lancaster County this week, but I’ll tell you, even in that terrible loss, I have learned what it means to take the Word of the Lord seriously. Even in an amazingly senseless tragedy, like the killing of 5 innocent little girls and the critical wounding of 5 more, there is hope. As details have emerged, my heart has been drawn back to the Lord.
CNN has been fixated on the details of the funeral. In the first report I read, they mentioned how the Amish truly believe that the next world is so much better than this. Now, I have to believe that the reporter who added that knows that all Christians believe in a heaven that is better than earth. But in light of how the Amish have been reacting this week, I think that reporter must have realized the Amish really believe it. It has transformed their lives.
It is the power of the resurrection that enabled the community to reach out to the widow of the shooter. They have taken her in – they have even asked that a portion of the donations flowing in would go to her. They realized she is grieving too.
It’s coming out that the shooter may have had truly abhorrent ideas of what to do with these young women. By God’s good grace, these girls were not abused before they died. Perhaps it is a mercy.
But something great happened, even as the shooter began his rampage. It turns out that at least two of the older girls asked the shooter to begin with them. They hoped they could buy time for the younger ones. They truly knew and believed, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’
They believed that. The power of those words resonated in their lives. It was their hope, it is our hope too.
So, when I tell you this morning that we believe in a resurrection, and that we have hope, please don’t dismiss it as just the words the pastor needs to say.
We all will miss Marian. She was a good woman who looked out for others in so many ways. She rarely even knew how great she was. But she was great because she believed in a Savior who loved her. It is only natural to extend that love.