The Christian Hope

by Lisa on March 31, 2012

It was about five minutes before four. I walked through the double doors and stood in the antechamber. Someone motioned me toward the guest book. I signed it and started to move forward to go into the sanctuary, but there was a bottleneck of tall guys in the doorway. Trying to peer over their shoulders to see what the hold up was, is when I saw it.

The casket.

The sight of it made me want to vomit. It was simple and beautiful, yet ugly and offensive all wrapped into one horrendous package. A large oak box with a medium-colored stain that allowed the straight lines in grain of the wood to still be visible. It sat on a metal gurney with wheels, and was surrounded by dear friends and family profoundly grieving, mourning its precious contents.

The priest stepped forward. He stood at the foot of the casket facing the door and all the tall guys. He was saying something I could not quite hear. He took out a wooden septer that had been dipped in holy water and splashed it onto the oak. A few of the tall guys at the front began to unwrap a white cloth. They  tenderly, and respectfully, draped the pall over the coffin. More words softly spoken by the priest, and then the entire procession started moving forward—the burial box on its gurney with wheels; the tall guys surrounding and pushing it.

I lugged to the back of the church and found a spot in the last pew. I set my purse down with a heavy heart and looked up. This can’t be. It’s not possible. It’s so wrong. Not wanting to believe what I was seeing, I stood watching the procession as it moved forward.  I suddenly noticed her. Following. Small, frail, and hunched over. My friend. My strong, beautiful, jovial, friend now crushed. Proceeding down the center aisle following her husband’s coffin while gently ushering her two young daughters forward into a complete nightmare.

They sat down in the front pew. I could see the backs of their heads. The curly dark hair of the mama and the curly dark hair of her babies in a place where no one should have to go. Her arms securely wrapped around each child—clinging. Clinging to them as a protective mother would, a mama-shield trying to ward off the cruel reality. Clinging to them as a way to soak up their daddy who lay in the casket in front of them. Clinging to them for desperate support in the unthinkable task at hand.

The priest moved to the alter and started reciting words and performing rituals I did not know or understand. His monotone voice seemed to drone on and on in words and language that were foreign to me. A hymn was sung, more words spoken with responses from the congregation.

I looked around the room at the dozens and dozens of people coming to pay their last respects. I found myself zoning out—trying to guess how many people were in the room, trying to think about how my friend was feeling, remembering the tenderness the man in the casket showed me in regards to my own Mother’s death less thank 18 months before.

“Death is cruel. Death is vile. Death is evil. And, death is certainly not what God intended for His creation.”

I began to actively listen again. The priest continued with his eulogy. As he read scripture and continued to speak, he began to  unveil the good news and the Christian hope—even in a situation as loathsome as this one. His message was simple:

The hope, and the good news, is for everyone. 

Trust and believe.

Then he went on to say: It’s not about what you have, or have not, done. It’s not about your good works, or lack of. It’s not about being a nice guy, or at least better than that guy. It’s not about living a “right” life. It’s not about kindness, or loving your neighbor as yourself—although we are called to do that. It’s not about going through the motions of all the right words or all the right actions. It’s not about being a good husband or wife, a good son or daughter, a good father or mother, a good brother or sister, or even a good friend. It’s not about doing all the “correct” things.

It’s simply about trusting. Believing.

It’s about knowing you don’t have all the answers. It’s about opening your hands to a free gift. It’s about saying yes.  It’s about recognizing you are weak, and in need of a Savior. It’s about being honest. It’s about Perfection suffering for you—because He loved you, and still does—even in the state you are in. It’s about substitution. It’s about death. It’s about resurrection. It’s about mercy. It’s about the eternal, the forever, the enduring glory. It’s about Life—your life & His. It’s about Joy. It’s about Peace. It’s about Love.


it’s all about Jesus.

He continued. He told of the husband whose mortal body was lying in the casket at the front of the room. The husband who believed in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. The husband who is alive. Alive in Him. Alive because he trusted. Alive because he believed.

Death has been swallowed up in victory.“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death is your sting?”The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~ 1 Corinthians 15:54b-56

That is the good news.

That is the Christian hope.

That is praiseworthy.


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