Monday, February 25, 2013

Alleluia's in Lent

Today I attended my first funeral in the D.R. It was emotionally more exhausting than visiting the children in some of the orphanages here. At the grave yard the workers rushed about to break open old vaults, prepare them, and seal them. There is a certain sense of finality in the D.R. funeral as opposed to the American funeral. The funeral home is kept very cold to preserve the body which has not been embalmed, and there is no patch of grass over the grave to remind people of renewed life in death. Rather, there is the stark reminder that this body is going to rot within a hot box of cement outside with several other bodies in rented cement vaults closely inlaid with a wall. They are buried much like they live; very close together. After the body is placed in the wall everyone stands around and watches as the worker, who is hot sweaty and wearing a t-shirt and jeans. He seals the vault with two cement blocks and wet cement for the sealant. 
Without the Easter message, this whole ritual communicates that this body is confined to this cell. This body is one quick job for a man that will do the same for twenty other cells today. This body, once the vessel for a life now is no different from any other earthly thing that will rot, decay, and pass away. With the Easter message however we know a different reality. This is the body of a dearly loved child of God. This child has been freed from the bonds of sin on this earth. This child is no longer confined to their flesh and while the seal is being placed upon the vault that holds their body, Christ had burst forth by placing his own seal upon this child though baptism.
What faced us today was a cell sealed with cement, but what we know is this; the very God who formed us has claimed us and already broken the cement. He is stronger than any substance man uses to block out the stench of sin and rotting flesh. This substance cannot hold back the promise and power of Christ’s presence at the grave and the uniting at the font and table. I love that the funeral is one of the exceptions to say "Alleluia" during Lent. I praise God as the words to this beautiful hymn ring in my ear even in the midst of this Lenten season: 

Now let the vault of Heavn resound
In praise of love that doth abound,
“Christ hath triumphed, alleluia!”
Sing, choirs of angels, loud and clear,
Repeat their song of glory here,
“Christ hath triumphed, Christ hath triumphed!”
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia. (LSB 465)

2 Cor. 15:55-57 
O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law: but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

No comments:

Post a Comment