Thursday, November 01, 2012

Gathered To His People

On the liturgical calendar, November 1 is All Saints Day or All Hallows (thus "Halloween" as a derivative of All Hallows' Eve).  On this day, we remember the Christians who have entered heaven.  This Sunday, the names of congregants who have died this year will be read during our worship service.  It's a bittersweet time for many as we rejoice in our loved ones' heavenly residence, but also grieve the loss of their companionship this side of heaven.

This year I'm especially reflective.  My Mom, sister and I recently made the southward trek to my parents' hometown to put autumn flowers on my Dad's grave.  My Dad is buried in the cemetery beside Parnell Baptist Church.  His grave joins the graves of generations of his ancestors who are also buried there.  As I walked through the cemetery, I realized more and more these names weren't just etchings on stone familiar only by the history Dad had recounted over the years, but now represented dear ones to whom I have said goodbye.

It may seem a strange thing to say, but I love this cemetery.  I love the literal "resting with your fathers" aspect of it.  It gives me a visual of the oft-used phrase in Scripture, "gathered to his people."  Every time I visit it, I am reminded death has lost its victory and the grave has lost its sting.  Like David's lost son, my loved ones can't return to me, but I will join them.  What a wonderful reunion is awaiting us!

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