I arrived early and sat listening to the pre-service music. It was my first visit to St. Joseph Church in New London. I looked around and was struck by the beauty of the church’s architecture. The magnificent stained-glass windows were a sight to behold. I sat there and soaked in the sense that I was sitting in the presence of Christ himself.
Of course, there is something about a funeral that causes us to pause and take note of the spiritual side of life. It is easy to ignore it when life is chugging along at a rapid pace. The death of someone in our circle of family, friends and acquaintances causes us to stop and ponder the fact that some day all of us will die.
Before long the family began filing in. My heart went out to them. It is hard to say goodbye to a husband, a dad and a man who was larger than life. The priest noted that he had touched so many with his compassion and generosity. He lived with a faith that was not only a blessing to him but to all who knew him. What a great testimony that was!
I thought to myself, “I hope someone will say nice things about me when I die. And I hope that they will be telling the truth and not just sharing platitudes.” I chuckled. For the truth is that we are writing our obituaries as we live out our days. Only we can determine what will be said. Our eulogies will be determined by the way we treat each other.
The story of Ebenezer Scrooge illustrates the point. His life was heading in one direction until he got a wakeup call ... three of them actually. The ghosts caused him to see himself as others saw him. He was a miserly, miserable misanthrope. He treated those around him with contempt. It came back to haunt him. Thankfully, it changed his life.
Death can be a wake-up call. We only have so many days given to us. We can use them to make a difference or we can let them slip away forever. As the priest recited the words of Jesus, “I am the resurrection and the life,” a bigger question struck me. What would Jesus say at my funeral? Have I lived a life that would receive his blessing?
The Bible tells us that Jesus loves us and gave his life for us. That’s what this season of Lent is all about. It is a time of reflection. We think about the sacrifice Jesus made. He paid the price for our sin and opened the door for us to be forgiven and made right with God. All we have to do now is accept his offering and claim the free gift of salvation.
The truth is that if we understand and embrace what Jesus did for us, then it will change our lives. We won’t have to wonder what Jesus will say. Our lives will reflect his glory. When Jesus greets us, it will be with the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” So let this season of Lent touch your heart and let Christ’s love change your lives.
The Rev. Cal Lord is pastor of Central Baptist Church in Westerly.