What do we see and what do we say in honor of a loved one who is no more?
A memorial is an opportunity to reflect on (remember) what is past and an opportunity to move forward.
Sharing with each other what was and is now past and articulating (proclaim) what can be and lies ahead in our journey of life. Such times do remind us of how fleeting this life can be and often leave us tired, hurt, aimless, dejected and with no strength to carry on!
Recently I participated in a memorial for my friend, Melvin, where his family described his zest for life and willingness to fight for what was right. Their own marriage was undertaken in the midst of family and community rejection and opposition. Melvin worked hard for his family, but illness took his life at a fairly young age leaving behind his wife and an only daughter. Even as his physical self was slowly fading away, Melvin remained strong in his spirit till the last few hours proclaiming “…surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).
The Psalmist says in Psalm 68, May God arise, may his enemies be scattered…but may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful. Sing to God, sing in praise of his name, extol him who rides on the clouds; rejoice before him—his name is the Lord. A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing…
A memorial can be an opportunity to see God and His eternal purposes in a new light.
While our lives are but for a moment, God’s purposes are described from Genesis (what was) to Revelation (what is to come). Within His Divine purpose is an integral part for each person that decides to follow Jesus even as Melvin did.
Our prayer today should be “May God arise”. Jesus taught us to pray similarly …Your Kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven… (Matthew 6). There is an enemy of our soul who rules over the kingdom of darkness. Even as Melvin fought for his family, he fought for justice for the weak and downtrodden. Indeed, he can fought the good fight, finished the race. Melvin’s race is done but the battle is not over yet. So, we continue to pray, may God arise!
Each time God’s people say ‘yes’ to God, the enemies are being scattered and defeated. Your soul is a battleground! If God can be for us who can be against us? The ultimate battle will be fought at the end of this age. Satan and his forces will be defeated while God and His people will see complete and final victory. Therefore, the righteous can be glad and rejoice. Death has lost its sting at the cross of Jesus and death will forever be defeated when Jesus wins the final battle at His second coming. He rides on the clouds, and He is coming on the clouds very soon!
A memorial can be a time to understand transitions.
After the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.
No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land, I swore to their ancestors to give them.
Why did God remind Joshua that Moses was dead? Was it hard for Joshua and the people of Israel to accept this? Sometimes the desire for the person who is lost can play with our imaginations. God seemed to have a ‘tough’ conversation with Joshua to help him face the reality of a great loss. However, God did speak to Joshua and was not silent or deaf. God is always present!
A memorial can be a time to articulate (proclaim) what God is saying to us about the future.
God told Joshua that Moses’ assignment was over, but the job still needed to be done with a new leader and a fresh assignment! The previous battles on the other side of Jordan were preparation for the battle on the other side of Jordan. While the battle belongs to the Lord, it was time for Joshua to lead the people. Joshua must be hurt and even upset at God for seemingly failing them by removing Moses at the most important time of their journey. Moses was called a friend of God. God’s compassion is evident as He reminds Joshua that as I was with Moses I will be with you.
Begin a new day under God. May God arise, and his enemies be scattered. May there be joy and strength in the family. Our God is a father to fatherless and a refuge for the widow. He brings the lonely into families. He heals the wounded hearted and sets the captives free. He is able, more than able to carry you through!
Embrace this fresh opportunity to know God’s assignment for your life. Take time to reflect. A retreat is a great way to see things more clearly by shutting off distractions around you and allow yourself to see the things of the Spirit of God. Learn to speak only as prompted by God. When we are slow to speak, we can speak with greater authority and the Spirit of God will prompt others to listen to His Voice along with ours.
If you hear His Voice today, do not get distracted or harden your heart. Be strong and courageous and obey because today the Lord will do marvelous things before you. May God Arise!