Recently, two of my Canadian friends attended a Memorial Service for a member of their small community at a United Church (a merger of the Methodist, some Congregationalist, and some Presbyterian churches in Canada). My friends said that the service’s “sermon” shockingly did not even mention Jesus.
Christians often say that they do not know how non-Christians deal with the loss of loved ones. The best scenario in terms of reunion and joy is a Christian’s mourning a Christian loved one. Similar in terms of reunion, though not joy, is a non-Christian’s mourning a non-Christian loved one. The worst scenarios in terms of reunion are a Christian’s mourning a non-Christian loved one and a non-Christian’s mourning a Christian loved one, though in those latter two cases at least the Christian will have eternal joy (the absence of the non-Christian will not diminish his or her bliss).
All people are sinful and so deserve temporal and eternal death, unless they turn in sorrow from their sin and trust God to forgive their sin for the sake of the God-man Jesus Christ, Who was crucified and resurrected for us all. Only such repentance and faith can prevent what is not annihilation after death but eternal torment in hell.
On the Last Day, the bodies of all the previously deceased will be resurrected and reunited with their souls that since their death already had been experiencing eternal joy or sorrow (experience which will be increased by the bodies’ senses). Regardless of whether previously deceased or alive at the end, all Christians will be glorified by God’s eternal presence, as all non-Christians will be shamed eternally apart from the presence of God.
God certainly is capable of comforting people regardless of their or the deceased’s circumstances, but a usual reason given for comfort after the loss of a loved one is the reunion in the joy of heaven. Having to face our own deaths and/or the deaths of loved ones without that sure possibility is a good reason for us to try to be united in the Christian faith now while we can be.
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore.You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.