A Stroll Through a Cemetery
Last weekend, Jane and I stopped by for a couple of days to visit our first church, Mill Creek Baptist in Roxboro, NC. We saw some of our old friends and went to the Sunday morning worship service. Lots of “remembering” and recollecting old stories – many very fond memories. We felt blessed by God and those good people for the six years that we served there in a great country church and community.
We arrived on Saturday and while Jane rested, I drove over to the church and just walked around outside for a while… then I began to stroll through the old large cemetery of this 182 years old church. This was a farming community and the church was at its heart and soul… and the tomb stones were like a census list. As I waded past the markers … it occurred to me that I recognized most of the names. Here were several generations of families whose names matched the names of the people I had served. I could remember stories that were told of some of their ancestry… so I was looking at a lot of graves of people that I either knew personally or I had heard of or read about in the church history books. (They celebrated 150 years while I was there – and I did a lot of research for that day.
As I made my way to the newer part of the cemetery I began to encounter the names of people that I knew personally… and a great many were those whom I officiated at their funeral. And then I came across the names of those who had passed away in the 31 years since I’ve left—again most of these were of the church and community and I knew them and knew their kids and grandkids.
I’ve never had a day quite like that… as I stopped and thought about each one it was like I could have a little conversation with them. “Well , you were a character and I laugh when I think of what you once said.” “There you are ______, you were a good soul – quiet patient and loving > I reckon you deserved a good spot in heaven.” “Hey , your old heavy burdens finally came to an end.” “And look at you ______, I remember you got saved and earned a spot down here in the cemetery—and looky, there is your wife and a couple of other kindred as well. How about you?”
Many places I just stopped and a lump would come into my throat when I remembered how much they meant to Jane and I… and in some places, I shook my head when I realized the heartbreak that their death brought to the family.
Finally, I stood still and surveyed the whole grave yard… a field dedicated to the memory of loved ones… a place where family members come and think. Each one, the living and the dead, “God so loved that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” There in an old farm community is a garden of hope, as it were, waiting on that day… when… “… the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so, we will be with the Lord forever.”
The modern world has portrayed cemeteries as a place of hauntings and fear… but not so for believers… “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil” … “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.”
See You Sunday for a Day to Rejoice in our Savior and Lord!