so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s”
-- Romans 14:8
Friends of Atonement,
You are God’s! Your faith declares it, and your baptism seals the deal. Jesus has given his life for yours, and he says to you, “Nothing can snatch you out of my hands.” We have many names for this comforting fact: “Amazing Grace,” “Blessed Assurance,” or simply the good news. This is why we do what we do: why we worship, why we pray, and why we reach out to share God’s love – because we know whose we are.
And because we are God’s, we can feel secure even when we face death. To know that the God who made us, who has loved and redeemed us is also the God we will meet in eternity brings a comfort nothing else can give. Knowing you are God’s brings a special peace, like that of a lamb following the caring shepherd to drink beside the clear, cool stream.
Who could ever put a price tag on this inner peace? How much would we spend if we could, to give that peace to those we love? But we know it doesn’t work that way. God’s grace is free of charge, even though Jesus paid the most precious price of all to cleanse us of our sin. But we can still share the story of that amazing grace, and still show the world how God has blessed us with the comfort of knowing we are his, both in life and in death.
In November we begin a new ministry here at Atonement. We have purchased a columbarium, a memorial to hold the cremated remains of loved ones. This large granite edifice will be placed behind the church, near the prayer garden. We will soon be making it available for members to purchase compartments to lay to rest the ashes of themselves or family members.
We also are continuing the “Tree of Life” memorial in the entryway. The brass leaves of the tree commemorate deceased members of our family of faith, and anyone can get a leaf engraved with the name of a loved one for a donation of $50.
It may not be your favorite thing to think about, but we know we are not going to be here forever. God has a new and wonderful creation in store for us after death, but we still do our best to care for those who remain. I encourage you to think about your legacy giving, and to continue supporting the causes and people who are important to you, in death as you have in life. Does your current will include your congregation and charities that are dear to your heart?
As St. Paul reminds us, whether we live or die we are still in God’s hands. People of faith do not see death as an end, but as a transition to new life. We celebrate the communion of saints that goes beyond the bounds of death, and we do our best to plan for a future we know is coming. We do so with hope, and with gratitude to God. I remember the closing words to one of my favorite old hymns, “…in life, in death O Lord, abide with me.” May God bless you always with the sure and certain hope of eternal life with him!