Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.” John 11:25-26
The pastor in the next town had been feeling tired. Repeated trips to the doctor for over a year showed nothing. Then came the dreaded call: “You have cancer.” Chemotherapy and radiation attacked the cancer, but the disease, so long undetected, spread despite medicine. He didn’t have long to live. Despite pain, exhaustion, and illness, he kept regular office hours and led worship, donning red suspenders when he lost weight. As the disease progressed relentlessly, his ministry took on new urgency: “I’m finding my faith is real; God is present and I know I am not alone,” he told his congregation.
The pastor’s last months were a dramatic picture of faith in word and deed. He counseled, cared for, and communed his congregation while showing compassion for the poor. His abiding faith shone brightly through his ill health and impending death. In one of his last sermons, preached during Lent, he said, “I know I am facing my own Good Friday any day now, but I thank God that through Jesus Christ, my Easter is coming!”
The pastor died before seeing the calendar’s Easter Day, though he surely greeted his Easter Lord. His funeral, in a packed church, was a celebration of life that ended with a jazz band playing his request: “When the Saints Go Marching In.” As tears streamed down our faces, we all joined in, proud—through God’s grace in Christ—to be in that number of sinners turned saints who will go marching in.
Prayer: Heaven’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee; in life, in death O Lord, abide with me. Amen.
Response: Find your favorite Easter hymn and read it today.
(Devotions from "Cross of Ashes" by Christine Weerts, a Lenten devotional provided by Lutheran Hour Ministries. Copyright 2005, Int'l LLL. All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be printed, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House. Permission is granted for one-time emailing of this link to a friend.)