As the year 2008 draws to a close, my thoughts turn to those who left this life this past year.
On the national scene, we read about the deaths of actors, explorers and writers: Sydney Pollack, Charlton Heston, William F. Buckley Jr., Roy Scheider, Sir Edmund Hillary, Michael Crichton, and many other notables.
On a personal level, several family friends passed away this year: John Penfield (of Torrington, Wyoming), Reba Penfield (of Lusk, Wyoming), Alice Sheman (of Manville, Wyoming) and several others who knew my parents well.
On Christmas Day, Sue's grandmother Jane Mueller died. She was 93. She lived a rich and good life, and was surrounded by hugging great-grandchildren just a few days before her death. Her funeral service was yesterday and I led the graveside service.
As I prepared for her service, I was struck by a few ideas. The first is the sovereignty of God. I felt that He was not surprised by her passing. I remembered in Scripture that God is our sustainer and our provider:
"I lie down and sleep; I wake again because the Lord sustains me" (Psalm 5:3)
"Even in your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you." (Isaiah 46:3)
The second big idea that I pondered was the incredible hope of eternal life offered by faith in Christ. At the graveside service I read the comforting words of forgiveness and eternal life found in the Anglican Common Worship service:
Hear the words of comfort our Savior Christ says to all who truly turn to him:
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
“God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
Hear what Saint Paul says:
“This saying is true and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” (1 Timothy 1:15)
Hear what Saint John says:
“If anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous One; and he is the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins.” (1 John 2:1,2)
May God bless those who have passed away in 2008 and comfort their families. May He also richly bless you this coming new year,