>When Grandfather’s Pass On

Posted: 13/10/2008 in death, eschatology, grandfather, resurrection

>A close friend recently lost her grandfather. The grief I felt for her and her family made me think back to when my grandfather passed on several years ago. The process I went through taught me a few things that I am sure all Christians share.
My Grandfather died in May of 2004 after several years of mental and physical deterioration. He was well into his 80s and had never really recovered from a stroke. As he began to forget things (like our names), he never became angry or irritable as some of the elderly do. He still remembered that we were his family and that he loved us. He was still thrilled when he saw small children come into his room. He even saw his first two great-grandchildren scant months before he passed on.

His funeral came at a strange time in my life. I had just decided that I was going to pursue education further than most. I learned I loved learning, thinking, and the honor that comes with it. This wasn’t simply me growing into arrogance, it was in fact what had kept my faith afloat at the time. Besides, many people saw my intellectual tendencies long before I did.

The sum of my grandfather’s life was so different than my goals of honorific academia. Due to circumstances outside of his control, he never made it past an eighth grade education. He made his living from a humble plumbing business. He never read anything deeper than Billy Graham. Yet, throughout the funeral, I realized that my Grandfather was exceptional in life. His faithfulness to his spouse, his kindness towards strangers, the honesty of his business, his devotion to Christ among other things made him a paragon. It made me re-evaluate myself then and still does now.

But that is not even the end of it. During the funeral –somewhere in between the rifle salute and the old hymn – the closing line of the Nicene Creed came into my mind:

We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

I cannot remember a time when I did know the Nicene Creed. I recited Sunday after Sunday as a child. Furthermore, in my time of crisis, I had spent some time reading on the historicity of Christ’s resurrection.

The Creed and historical Jesus are of great importance, but at that funeral was the first time I ever really took emotional ownership of this last line and the idea of Christ coming before his disciples after dying. Because of Christ’s resurrection, we can look foreward to a world not full of angelic ghosts playing harps, but glorified and repaired resurrected bodies that are immune to decay and corruption of this world.

For this reason, the early Christians buried –not cremated –their dead. As Christians today, when we bury our dead, we remember that we don’t have to think of them in their last moments here. Instead, we look forward to what they will be, when God raises all from the dead and frees us from corruption and death.

  1. Heidi says:

    >I really like that last line from the Nicene Creed.I’m curious though if you believe we should be buried, and not cremated…

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