Nobody who rests on Christ can say they don’t know weakness. They may (and hopefully do) know a resurrection strength that is unimaginable, but they still cannot say they don’t know weakness. Because its in the weakness that they find THE reason to rest only on the resurrection power of Christ and on nothing of themselves.
Today, I am broken at the thought of friends (who rest on Christ) – some of the most beloved people I know – who are very weak today. Today I am broken for the family of Mr. Ira Luster, who passed away today… a charter member (I think) of the church I was privileged to pastor in TN. I am broken for his wife Ida and his umpteen children and grandchildren and greatgrandchildren. I am broken for the people of Harmony PCA in Kingsport, TN (what stories of how the man physically built the church building). I am broken myself – I loved Ira. I loved preaching to ‘Ira and Ida’ as they (such little and yet radiant people) sat in the back left corner of the sanctuary. I loved my visits to his home and his WWII stories and his love of his wife of 65 years. I loved his laugh and his life and his humility.
And yet, I am filled with hope because those very same beloved people are resting on the resurrection power of Christ to rescue them in their weakness. Yes, they are weak, but it is a different kind of weakness. There is real grief, but “we do not grieve as those who have no hope”(1 Thess. 4:13). We grieve in weakness, but it is a different kind of grieving.
Anybody who knows the pastoral side of me (yes, there is one) knows that a funeral service of worship for one of God’s children is my favorite service of worship… there is no comparison. I quickly learned in my first funeral as pastor of Harmony that there is no other service of worship wherein people depend so intensely on the words of the gospel to be absolutely TRUE. At a funeral service of worship, the text is read and it IS listened to, because for those who are grieving, they MUST believe it (the resurrection) to be true if they would have their weakness ministered to by God himself. At most other services the Word comes and goes… some cling to it, others just watch the clock. Or in a wedding, people just want the vows and reception! But at a funeral – the depth of the weakness enables the depth of the dependence and so people listen expectantly.
This week there will be a funeral where weak worshipers gather in praise of the King of LIFE. It will be a gathering of weakness, to be sure – but through the gospel – it will be a different kind of weakness. O God be with the Luster family, the Harmony family, the Kingsport community, and with your servant Mark who gets the privilege of ministering the beautiful, glorious gospel to weak people. Sure, they will be what they are (weak)… but it’ll be different. Hallelujah!