October 24, 2021
It felt good to gather, together in worship and overflow this past Wednesday, for the memorial service of Jennifer VanderPloeg. Solomon gives us this wisdom proverb, from Ecclesiastes 7:2 “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every person; the living should take heart.” Our condolences to Ed and his family in this continued time of suffering, sorrow and grief. The graveside ceremony was at Mount Pleasant Cemetery just off 17A, here in Owen Sound. Her sons served as Paull Bearers, feeling the weight of her love.
Cemeteries are difficult places to leave loved ones, and quiet, gentle places to return, privately releasing words unspoken and honest emotions of raw sorrow and pain. While waiting for everyone to come, those who were already at the cemetery noticed family members and friends who had gone before us, with names printed on stone. Each stone carries memories and stories carved with their name. It’s not unusual to see families gather in a cemetery to bury a loved one and when the committal service is finished, family and guests fan throughout the cemetery visiting neighbours and friends, family members and loved ones already buried.
The living stones that Peter spoke of in 1 Peter 2, are sisters and brothers in Christ, chosen by God and precious to him, who are being built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood. One of the strengths of sisters and brothers in Christ is their ability to die to self, and join others in their suffering and grief, as well as their celebrations and joys. Even though the funeral service was a difficult place to be, it was good to be there together. The Lord hears our lament and joins us in grief. It is in God’s presence that we find comfort, and healing and hope.
The image Peter was speaking of was rebuilding the temple of Jerusalem, with those who place their faith in Jesus, and how each of us are another stone added to that structure. Not only has our earthly bodies become a temple of the Holy Spirit, but together, our earthly and our spiritual bodies are being built into God’s temple, where he dwells. “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every person; the living should take heart.” Ecclesiastes 7:2