Monday, August 23, 2010

How's it work?

Well, I didn't get to begin my work day with Scripture and prayer, the discipline I am committed to re-establishing now that I'm back at work. (I did get to it a bit later, though.) I started my day instead with a visit to two widows. One woman's husband died in May, just a few days before Pearl was born, after a long illness and short experience with in home hospice care. I was blessed to participate (but not take the lead) in his funeral service 2 days after coming home from the hospital. The other woman's husband died suddenly, in the driveway at a family reunion while they were out of state on vacation. He and his wife had actually moved away from here a year ago and were on their way back for a visit. She came here for his service since this was their home for decades, and even though their membership was officially transfered the week before this was really their church home. I lead that service Satuday, my first weekend back at work. The former widow was offering the latter amazing hospitality in her time of grief since she no longer has a home in our town.

During a visit I ended up in one of those conversations that they never can quite prepare you for in seminary. The woman who had just lost her husband was feeling uneasy about the request of her husband's to be cremated which she had honored. She was asking me how that worked with heaven and seeing people and all of that. My theology classes gave me one answer, but thankfully my pastoral care classes taught me that this was not the time to share it. I stuck with my more literal answer, that if God can do the miracles we claim God can do, God can certainly figure out how to raise a cremated body and work it out just right for heaven.

This has just never been something I have worried about. Seminary gave me words and ideas to help back up my own tendencies toward thinking that when we're dead we're dead. I have never really bought into this idea that our bodies are buried and our souls go floating away to some sort of invisible heaven. I can believe in a new creation, a new heaven and new earth, and eternal life praising God, but I guess I see that has happening sometime later, not immediately upon each person's death. But again, this was not the time or place to wax theologically about my understanding of the afterlife.

This was a woman who was asking a very practical question about how her husband would get his body, where was "he" now, and how will people recognize each other. I had to give her the best answer I had, "I don't know." I don't know how it all works out. I don't know how God does it all, but what I can be sure of is that God is in charge. God knows how it all works out. God will bring us, wholy and holy into the divine presence with all of the saints and then we will see God's glory.

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