Today we celebrated the life of Harvey Dettmer, and we mourned losing him.
I think that’s kind of theme that we have been working with over the past few weeks: Sometimes celebration, sometimes loss. That can make a rollercoaster of a time. And yet, the saints go marching on, and I don’t mean my native football team. I mean the saints of God, those that have gone before us, whose shoulders we stand on as the church. They are marching, and celebrating, and parading as they are with God. And what a parade I bet it is!
Every Sunday we celebrate in church the resurrection of Christ, the defeat of death and the presence of God with us. That’s why we celebrate on a Sunday as opposed to the traditional gathering of the Sabbath held Saturday. We get up early in the morning, run to church, and again get to recount like the original disciples how the tomb is empty. Christ has done this, and invites us to join also in the parade. And we can join amongst the celebration and we can join even as we feel sorrow.
In south Louisiana, my homeland, there is the tradition of second lining. Originally associated with funerals, it’s a parade of music, umbrellas bounced up and down and back and forth to the beat of it all. It’s a parade in which handkerchiefs can be pulled from teary eyes and worn noses, and waved like Christ himself has joined in for the Second Coming. It is the celebration amidst the despair. Coming out of slavery and oppression, it is a pronounced declaration that God has the last word and that last word is life eternal. It is the assertion that while we mourn like Paul claims in 1Thessalonians 4, it is not as those who have no hope.
We, in the sorrow and celebration, are willing to blow the trumpet, beat the drum, and wave the snotty hanky because God has defeated death in the resurrection of Christ. And so, we join in the parade, giving thanks for the marriages of Hillary and Scott, Shane and Mary Kay; and giving thanks for the lives of Harvey and Matt even as we mourn. For, in the words of Paul, “When we live, we live to the Lord, and when we die, we die to the Lord. So whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s” And so we parade on…with all the saints.