Funeral offers Kingdom sighting

Funeral grief
funeral for erik hinson
Erik Hinson 1965-2022

There is unique sadness in attending the funeral of someone who shares your birth year. Awareness of our own mortality mixes in with the multi-layered grief: for his mother, his fiancé, his children, his siblings; for niece and nephews who loved him, step kids to-be who were already counting on him, coworkers and friends who labored and laughed with him.

Perfect Humans? Um, no.

It’s even harder when swirling amid the pain are agonizing what-ifs: if he’d gotten an earlier diagnosis, if he had gone to the doctor sooner…. It’s not just a loss, it feels senseless. Of course, none of us gets out of this life alive. And that perfect human thing was a one-and-done deal, so we all fall short. We all make conscious choices that shorten our lives. We eat too much and exercise too little; we don’t sleep enough and work far more than we should; we drive when we are distracted, handle stress in unhealthful ways, and forget our sunscreen. Each one of us is guilty of taking the gift of life for granted at some point along the journey. So, for me, the what-ifs are only helpful when I ask them of my future self. Naturally, my brain still lets a few slip through that filter though, especially when I’m the same age as the deceased.

All we have? This life.

At the funeral, we were all so very glad that we do not grieve as those who have no hope. We know that the end here is not the ultimate finale, that his children, his mother, his siblings, all of his beloveds will see him again one day. Yet what struck me in the service was the testimony of this man’s life on this side of Glory. And that’s the thing, isn’t it? This life is all we have. It’s ours to live or to squander.

In Luke 6:27-38, Jesus continues to teach people how to be in the world and he says something (else) crazy, “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you.” That’s not all; you can click on the link to read the whole passage. It’s not easy stuff, yet God’s not forcing believers to follow the teaching of Jesus. God is inviting us into a counter-cultural way of living. It’s an opportunity, not an obligation. We GET to pay attention. We get to listen. We get to act in the way of Christ.

Eternal life already? Yes, and not yet.

As the funeral ended, the song I Can Only Imagine by MercyMe came over the sound system. The song longs for a distant day: “Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel?” The lyrics wafted through the chapel and Erik’s nuclear family, spread out across two pews, leaned in and reached out. Linked by human touch, uncle hugged niece, cousin wrapped arm around cousin, daughter embraced father from seat behind, grandmother comforted grandchild. Witnessing the depth of love and connection in this aggrieved family, I recognized–in that present moment–that I was already surrounded by God’s glory. And my heart felt a surge of hope for the “already/not yet” promise of salvation in Christ. What a beautiful truth: we get to experience heavenly glory right here on earth, even as we look forward with hope to a reunion that is not quite yet.

Categorized as Faith, Family

By Aileen MItchell Lawrimore

Aileen Mitchell Lawrimore is a mother x 3, wife x 35 (years not men), minister, speaker, writer, retreat leader, and lover of beagles and books. She has a lot to say.