You may recall that this past April 12th, we observed Easter in a way we had never observed it before…virtually…live streaming the service with as much joyful noise as a few voices and instruments could make amid the shut-down.
Today’s hymns are Easter hymns! This is on purpose. With as many as are able to come to our sanctuary, we will celebrate “a little Easter in August.”
We shall stand in a little graveyard in the village of Bethany and hear Jesus say: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even if he dies. And whoever lives and believes in me will never perish.”
We shall watch as, with a loud shout, Jesus calls forth Lazarus from the grave!
In 1750, Thomas Gray wrote “Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard” –
“The boast of heraldry,
the pomp of power,
And all that beauty,
all that wealth ever gave,
Awaits alike the inevitable hour;
The paths of glory lead
but to the grave.”
Rich and famous, poor and infamous, in ornate casket or pine box, all are laid to rest in the graveyards of earth.
The pyramids of the Pharaohs, the graves of Lincoln, Grant or Kennedy may be fancier than the humble holes into which most of us will be lowered – but these people are no less dead.
Often enough, years ago, Christians used to speak of “God’s acre,” especially in connection with graveyards owned by the church.
Burial in a church cemetery, of course, guarantees nothing, any more than standing in a garage makes you an automobile.
But the original idea is a comforting one, that the grave of a Christian is more than a mere burial plot.
By faith in Him who was once buried Himself and then rose again, the little plot of ground becomes “God’s acre” in the best sense of the term.
A sure and certain hope sanctifies our final resting place, whether in a country churchyard, or amid the dust and ashes scattered across battlefields, or the remains sunk in ocean depths.
Over “God’s acre,” God’s people can still gather over their own who died believing in Christ as their only Savior. They can know for sure, as Jesus Himself said, “that a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out” (John 5:28-29).
For Christians, “God’s acre” is but a temporary resting place for bodies which housed our souls, souls which are already rejoicing in the arms of God,
souls which will be reunited with glorified bodies on that day when our living Redeemer (Job 19) shall come and call for the work of His hands (Job 14).
He who said in a cemetery long ago, “I am the Resurrection and the Life,” promises to make of our graves too nothing less than hallowed ground …waiting for the trumpet call of God.