Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2
April 2nd, which was on Palm Sunday this year, has deep significance for me. This year it is the 15th “anniversary” of my husband Phil’s home going to be with Jesus. In 2008, Easter Sunday was March 23, the earliest that it will be again until 2160.
The weeks leading up to Easter had been eventful for us. Phil turned 71 on February 26. Our 43rd wedding anniversary was March 12, which we celebrated with a weekend trip to our favorite inn in Estes Park.
Back then, Palm Sunday, March 16th was the start of Holy Week, and we helped set up “Expressions of Easter” in the Worship Center. During that week, the community was invited to walk through an experience of the road to the cross leading up to Good Friday.
On Saturday, we were part of the large crew who cleared the worship center to prepare for Easter Morning. A treasured memory for me from that time is watching Phil and a teenage friend of ours walking together with an arm over each other’s shoulder as they enjoyed a good talk – age and youth delighting in their friendship.
Easter Sunday has been a celebration of Christ’s resurrection and the promise of life in Him now and when He comes again. After Phil had welcomed people in the Fellowship area, he joined me with the team in the sound booth for both Easter services. We had dinner later at the home of some dear friends.
On Tuesday, April 1, 2008, Phil woke up so weak he could barely crawl. An ambulance took him to the closest hospital, which was Porter, and he died at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 2nd. He was diagnosed as having pneumonia with septicemia that had ravaged his whole body. – no warning, no previous indications.
As one who has experienced a lot of death in my own family and, as a long time part of the sound tech team, I have had the privilege of helping with many memorial services. Some of these were for people I didn’t know, and many were people who were friends. The memorials consisted of people of all ages. I still have most of the bulletins from those services, and occasionally look through them to remember the people and their stories.
Hebrews 11 and 12 tell about “heroes” of the faith who believed God’s promises and looked forward to what they didn’t get to experience in their lifetime. They are called “a great cloud of witnesses”. Paul also expresses his hope in 2 Timothy 1:8-12
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle and a teacher of the Gentiles. For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.
Take time in the coming days and weeks to savor the memory of Easter and Christ’s promise to us of resurrection when he returns. In the process of looking forward to that day, grow in living daily with the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit .