No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life ... nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:37-38a, 39b
Pastor Tommy Ramey of Victory Chapel Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina, can remember how eight-year-old Christian Jose-Lopez spoke of how much he loved Thanksgiving. Indeed, the night before Lopez was struck by a car while walking home from church, the pastor and the boy had spoken of that special holiday.
As I said, Lopez was hit by a car. He died in the hospital two days later.
The church paid for the boy's funeral and, one of his friends, a little girl named Brooklyn Fowler, placed a Christmas tree on the lad's new grave. This she did because she had heard Lopez speaking of his eagerness to decorate his own tree. The tree was put on the grave on Sunday, the day of the funeral.
By Monday afternoon, someone had stolen it.
Five-hundred years ago, Luther wrote, "Take they our life, goods fame, child and wife, let these all be gone, they yet have nothing won, the kingdom ours remaineth." Two-thousand years ago, St. Paul said, "neither death nor life ... will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
My friends, this sinful world has managed to take Lopez's life, his Christmas, his church, even the small tree left on his grave, by a friend. These things are all gone. But even so, Christian Jose-Lopez has not lost.
He has won.
Because of Jesus Christ, God's Son, who was born in Bethlehem, this boy is a victor.
As has been true for so many saints who have gone before him, Christian celebrates this week's festival in heaven. Forgiven of his sins by the crucified and risen Redeemer, Christian has gone home to be with his Lord.
* This week, and forever, he offers up an unending thanksgiving for the Lord's gracious gift of eternal life.
* This week, and forever, he is privileged to see the beauties of heaven and the countenance of his Savior.
* This week, and forever, he can sing unending hymns of praise to the Lord for His gracious gift of salvation.
In short, Christian is, like us, a victor who will always be in the hands and presence of his loving Lord Jesus.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, there are times in our lives when we must say an earthly goodbye to family and friends. Send Your Holy Spirit upon us so that we may look past death and grave. Let us see the victory that is ours through the Babe of Bethlehem, the Christ of the cross, the Savior of the empty tomb. This we ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries