Loss teaches love
After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body. — John 19:38
I’ve had the honor of doing a great number of funerals since I’ve been a pastor. In ten years, I’ve done over seventy services. For those that ended in a cemetery, I have had the prime gravesite location, a vantage point that enables me to see and hear a great deal.
At times like these, I gently share what I experience to be true, that the window between life and death opens wide when someone dies.
I also say this. “The Apostle Paul is right in 1 Corinthians 13. ‘Love never fails.’”
Love cannot be stopped, even in death. Love keeps teaching us the value of relationships and time. Raw, sloppy and crippling grief—the real ripe stuff—helps us, in time, know what we have to do, and that is love.
Joseph of Arimathea was one of Jesus’ disciples. Maybe he was super close to Jesus. Maybe he was a bit further away. But the two had a few incredible bonding moments when Jesus was alive (or why would Joseph ask Pilate the question). Certainly, Joseph chose to have bonding time with Jesus in death.
What were those moments like for Joseph and the body of Jesus? I don’t know for sure, but in having worked closely with local and regional funeral directors, I can say the word sacred. Yes, sacred. People in the dead body business know this is not a business; it is an honor and a sacred service.
A professional named Adam is an example. With his name comes two words, valor and integrity.
Joseph held valor and integrity. Not understanding death and its timing—no one ever does—he did what he could. Proximity helped his pain. With Jesus in his arms, he honored the life and the death of the one he loved, learned from, and laughed with.
May we do the same.
Death can be a whopper. But may we Easter witnesses remember again that death is not an end.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus who took the sting of death away on that first Sunday morning with a tomb empty, help us honor death because it teaches us so much about life. Amen.