So far this week has been one of those weeks. My church is located in a near western suburb of Chicago. While the suburb butts up against Chicago and is in the flight path of Midway Airport; it is a small village of about 6,000 people and has retained a small town feel. Even with the Chicago skyline visible it can be very easy to forget in the middle of one of the major metropolitan areas of the world.
The town suffered a great tragedy last week when a prominent member of the community was killed in an on the job accident. Our church hosted the funeral yesterday and nearly 225 people showed up. Our sanctuary is normally set to seat about 100 and we really start feeling full at around 75-80. So Monday was filled with moving all of the normal stuff out of the sanctuary, adding an additional 55 chairs and setting up overflow seating and sound equipment downstairs and outside. Tuesday afternoon was filled with putting everything back. (Hence no blog posting either day.)
The death of this young man shook the the whole community. I never had the privilege of meeting him but his grandmother is a member of our church. From what I heard at the funeral yesterday I have every reason to believe that this man was not only a very good man but also a fellow believer in Christ. Being Easter we have just celebrated the most important event in human history. It is the resurrection of Christ that gives us the only hope we can have in a time like this. Paul shares the hope that we should have in 1 Corinthians 15:1-23:
"Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you-unless you believed in vain.
"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.
"Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.
"But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ."
What Paul is saying is that Christ's resurrection is the most important thing that we can hold on to and it is more than just a one time event. Christ's resurrection on that first Easter morning is the first-fruit of the resurrection that we as believers in Christ can also expect to be a part of. We have the hope that–while tragic and sad–that death here on this earth is not the end. There is more to come and we will one day be reunited with all those that have put their faith in Jesus Christ.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.