Easter Reflections on Death

Several years ago I found a humorous story that touched me deeply. Although I have used it several times at Memorial Services, I believe this story is especially appropriate as we prepare for and celebrate Easter. A man had a friend who enlarged his business. His sales had increased to the point that a larger warehouse and sales office were needed. Even though the move was a rather complicated and burdensome process, it was really a thing to be celebrated. For this reason, the man sent his friend some flowers on the day of his grand opening. The flowers, however, were poorly handled and the businessman received a bouquet that was intended for a funeral. It was accompanied with a card which said: "My deepest sympathy during this time of sorrow." When the man called his friend on the phone to wish him well, he was confronted with the error, "Why in the world," said the businessman, "did you send me these sympathy flowers?" The man went immediately to the florist to demand an explanation. The florist met him outside the shop and was obviously upset. "I am terribly sorry about the mix-up with the flowers," he said, "but I hope you will be understanding. Your situation is not half as bad as the one down at the funeral home. The folks there received your flowers accompanied by the card which said: ‘BEST WISHES IN YOUR NEW LOCATION.’” Because of Easter, “BEST WISHES IN YOUR NEW LOCATION” may really be the ideal message to send to a Christian funeral. In John 14:2-3 Jesus assures us there is life beyond the grave when he says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (NIV) In 2 Corinthians 5:6-9 Paul expresses his faith in our Lord’s words that we will be with him when we die. Paul writes, “Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.... We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” (NIV) Losing a loved one is always a time of grief and pain, but one of the reasons Easter is so important is that the resurrection is our guarantee that Jesus is alive and that the words of Jesus (and Paul) are not mere wishful thinking. Because of Easter we know that God has the power to give us new life. Because of Easter we are assured that if we are true disciples of Jesus, dying means being transferred from this earthly existence to the glory Jesus has prepared and promised. When I die I do hope someone will miss me. But I also hope the mood will be one of celebration instead of sorrow. Sing Easter songs, tell happy stories about me, and celebrate my entrance into a brighter place. Oh, and if you must send flowers, I hope someone sends a note saying, “Good luck in your new location!” Yours in Christ, David