As a pastor, I’ve participated in quite a few graveside services. Most are somber, heavy moments painted with bitter tears. Many cling to a thread of hope in the middle of profound loss. Scripture is usually read monotone, and sometimes a song is dragged out, its half-hearted melody wrestled from the grip of great sorrow. One or two services felt empty. Like the funeral of a woman who probably hadn’t given her heart to Jesus but the thought was too awful to admit. Dirt can seem so final, so unforgiving, and at services like those, everything we do feels like trying to capture the wind.
I have yet to be at a service upset by unbridled pandemonium. There’s never been an earthquake while I offer my comfort, never a magnificent angel throwing the tomb open like a plaything. I’ve never watched Roman guards fall like dominoes as their minds short circuit in terror. And I’ve never seen a dead man step from his tomb, cosmic fire in his eyes, chest swelling with an expanding victory that will encompass the eons.
I’ve never been at a wake that rejected death and began eating away at doom itself. I’ve never officiated a memorial service that became a welcome BACK home party. I’ve never witnessed death being swallowed whole by life.