Yesterday was the one year anniversary of my father’s death, just 21 months after my mom died. You might think that I would be doing anything possible to keep my mind off of that for the day, but instead, you might say that I drove right into the mouth of the dragon. My family and I spent the morning in Williamsburg, going through the townhouse that my parents barely occupied before the bottom fell out on them.
There is hardly anything left there. We enlisted some folks to come in and sell what was left over. For those of you who are left with properties when you lose parents or relatives, an estate sale is an incredibly beneficial thing, mostly because you don’t have to sort through the belongings yourself. We were blessed to have a friend who is involved with estate sales and the emotional weight that was taken off of me by having someone else sort through my parents’ belongings was invaluable. We had gone through and taken all of the sentimental stuff out, so we were not worried about what was going to be purged.
Going through the townhouse, I thought that I might feel a stronger emotion than I did. It wasn’t the house that I had grown up in. My mom had only been able to call it home for about 9 months before she died there. My dad could only call it home for a little while longer as he eventually was unable to care for himself. Once the furniture and “stuff” was taken out of it, it just resembled a space with no identity. The day will come soon when the place is sold and someone else will move in there. That day will hold different emotions for me than walking through this now empty tomb.
It’s appropriate that the emptying of this “tomb” should take place when it has. I’ve always seen God’s timing as impeccable, and this situation seems to reinforce that. In just a few days, Christians will be celebrating the empty tomb, rejoicing that Christ didn’t stay where he was buried but rose instead. Today, I am celebrating that the empty tomb of a house where my parents once lived could not hold them. It contained some memories, but they are not there. Just as my dad insisted we put on my mom’s grave, “She is not here, she is with Jesus,” so the phrase now applies to him as well.
Today is Good Friday, but it hardly seemed “good” to those first disciples. If there had ever been a Black Friday, it was that day for the disciples and all who had followed Jesus up to that point. All that took place didn’t seem good, at least not from their vantage point, but they didn’t have the benefit of hindsight and they were still hanging onto hope that had not yet come to fruition, it had not been fully realized.
I’m reminded of Paul’s words to the Romans in the eighth chapter of his letter where he wrote, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Because of a very black Friday, we can celebrate a joyful Sunday. Because of what took place between those days, I can celebrate. It’s hard to bid farewell to what had become a shrine, a place of remembrance of my parents, but it’s a lot easier when I think about Easter Sunday. He is risen indeed and we need not fear death any longer!
Have a blessed Good Friday, but more importantly, have a joyful and Happy Easter!