(Jesus said) "And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me.'" Matthew 25:40
The funeral director had told Rabbi Weinbach that "This is the easiest funeral you're ever going to do."
The director was referring to the service for 83-year-old Francine Stein. It was his opinion that he and the rabbi would be the only ones at the funeral. That idea bothered the rabbi. He was concerned that someone could live their entire life and have no one to mourn their passing.
That was when he had his daughter, Ora, go on Facebook and ask for volunteers.
That's right. She asked for people to come forward and attend a service for someone they had never heard of, someone they had never met. Can I tell you that 30 people set aside their busy schedules and showed up at the cemetery?
Not only did those folks come, they also served. They did everything that was necessary to give Stein a nice farewell.
Some of them carried her casket, and some of them helped with the service. Some of them let the casket down into the gravesite, and some of them shoveled dirt into the hole. These volunteers came to work, and no job that needed to be done was left undone.
The director, the rabbi, and his daughter were amazed at this display of human compassion.
I would be too if, over the years, I hadn't regularly seen people doing the same kind of thing. Thinking back upon my parishes, it was not an unusual thing for a man or woman to outlive both friends and immediate family. The few who attended such a service were shirt-tail relatives who never really had known the soul, which had gone home.
And what did the church do for such an individual?
* Volunteers (or the custodian) came in and did an extra cleaning of the facility.
* The elders of the congregation showed up to prepare the church and make sure the service was properly managed. If needed, they served as casket-bearers for the deceased.
* Soloists and organists were called on to beautify the worship.
* The LWML-ers (Lutheran Women's Missionary League) faithfully served a meal for any and all who made an appearance.
Now some of these folks may have been paid, but they never expected it, demanded it, or complained if a gift was not forthcoming.
No, they did what they did because they were saying an earthly farewell to one of our own. They did what they did to show our congregation's thanks to the Savior whose life, suffering, death and glorious resurrection had changed a day of mourning to a day of gladness.
I was proud of all those folks back then and I'm proud of them now. And this devotion is a long-delayed thank you for the many, many folks in many, many congregations who honor the Savior by showing love to the "least of these."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, we give thanks You have saved us. May all the members of our Christian families do what we can to show our gratitude to You by the way we treat each other. In Jesus' Name I pray it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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