Thoughts at the side of a grave

A sketch of my graveside remarks & scriptures at the burial of John Forringer, 11 o’clock AM, Thursday, July 3, 2008, in Clarion, PA

WE THANK GOD, that in His great mercy, men have been born again into a life full of hope, through Christ’s rising from the dead! Do not be afraid! “I am the first and the last, I am the Living One, for I was dead and now I am alive forevermore,” Jesus says! “Because I live, you also shall live!”

A cemetery is a resting place for the bodies of those who have died. In the case of our dear Christian brother, John, it is as the Scriptures say: to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We do well this morning to think of this place as it one day will be: a place of resurrection! One day, at the return of Christ Jesus, the dead will rise, and be joined body and spirit to enter eternity.

We believe in the resurrection because of the Word of God, and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

I Corinthians 15:20–26

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Our hope in the resurrection was held by the famous Old Testament saint, Job. Have you heard of the great patience of Job? Hear now of the great hope of Job:

Job 19:25-27a

For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.

How does one come by this hope of resurrection, and eternal life in heaven? Hear the words of Jesus:

John 10:27-30

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

John 11:21-27

21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

And finally, hear and heed these words, which well fit our departed brother John.

2 Timothy 4:7–8

7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

A Graveside Prayer:
Eternal God, our days and years are lived in Your mercy. Make us know how frail we are, and how brief our time on earth is; and lead us by your Holy Spirit into a right relationship with You — based upon faith alone in your Son, our Savior & Lord. And when we have served You in our generation, we may be gathered into Your presence, faithful in the church, and loving toward neighbors. Through Jesus Christ our Lord we pray, AMEN.


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