-Rev Melissa Fain-
John 11:35 NIV
I was in middle/high school. This was before I realized I would go to seminary, and it wasn't even on my radar. I did not have a public speaking voice, and speaking in public terrified me. I knew what good preaching was, and I wasn't it. Still, I had this desire to learn and know. I would pull my minister, Rev. Dr. Jerry Gladson, aside and just ask questions. I used to pick books in the bible and just email pages of questions. Romans broke me. This is why you don't read the Bible from front to back. Both of the Corinthians are better first letters.
Anyway, When I approached Jerry this particular time I wasn't currently reading scripture. I was mourning. My grandmother on my Dad's side passed, and it left me with questions. Why do we, as Christians, mourn? Do we believe in Heaven or not? If we believed in Heaven why did we weep?
I'm an adult now. I've been a minister myself for nine years. I get the look he gave me when I asked the questions. I can put myself in his shoes. Usually my questions were emailed, carefully numbered for easy separation. I engaged him after Sunday worship with no time to research. I don't recall anymore what he told me, only that I had clearly unbalanced him as I would have been unbalanced myself. I remember he didn't give me much, which was understandable. Not many of us spend time contemplating death.
I, however, could not let it go. While theological questions have come and gone, this question has remained with me. Many years later, I have an answer.
Some things stay dead. Heaven is not a place for our human selves. Heaven is not a place for our racism, misogyny, addictions, lusts, or [insert things that keep us from God here]. At the same time, those are things are things that shaped who were are or were. When someone passes it marks the end or conclusion to something. We will never know that person, as we knew them, ever again. Their memory eternal, but their physical being gone. That is the space where Christians mourn. Even though many of us believe there is something more, we also know somewhere, we've lost something forever.
The Disciples had an example of how to behave the day after the Crucifixion, and that example came from Jesus himself. In the passing of Lazarus, in that moment of true death, Jesus wept. No words. Just tears.
Why do we, as Christians, mourn? Because Jesus gave us space to mourn. Something has died. It will never exist in that way ever again. God is dead.
Let us pray
(Sit in a space and let the silence speak to you.)