Thursday

Gifts at a funeral

1976It was on the drive to Mr. Stephens’ funeral, Stan’s dad, that it hit me—the last time I was in this church building was for my mother’s funeral.

And the time before that? My father’s funeral.

And here we go again.

Homegoings aren’t just for the dead.
They’re homecomings for the living.

I was going home. This church—these people—were the ones I grew up with. Ones that I played with. Ones that helped raise me, taught me. And even though it’s no longer my home congregation, it still feels oddly like home.

I take a deep breath. I walk into the building. The first person I see? My big (but little) sister Sandy. I’m going to be okay. I join the conversation between her and Gayle, a long-time friend, and Gayle’s now much older (but still beautiful) mother. Gayle said she used to play with my hair when I was a little girl.

What is it about death that brings people together?
Or is it something about love instead?

The faces of surprise—it’s so good to see you!—and the hugs and the words.

Feelings of life.
Of love.
From God and his people.

Next in? Lane, my brother in the flesh and in the Spirit.
God’s gifts keep unwrapping.

Gifts of roots and family and home.
Of love.

We talk to David, my dentist, about his mom (her memory is failing). Marty and Kevin sit in front of us and we remember being scared during the riot shortly after our grade school was integrated long ago. Charles, our town’s fire chief for 35 years, now retired, sits beside us.

Gifts each one.

Gifts of life that make the dying more livable.
That make the breathing here easier.

God knows gifts. He knows which ones to give at which time and where and how. Perfect gifts each one.

I thank him for unwrapping gifts of home for me this week...
even at a funeral, I can rejoice.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.
James 1:17

* * *

What gift has God unwrapped for you this week?

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