Tuesday, March 10, 2020


Romans 12:15 says "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn." As far as Biblical mandates go, at first glance this seems like an easy one.

My church's sanctuary holds about 250 people. Though showing some signs of age, it has a feature that attracts many would-be brides: a spiral staircase at the front of the sanctuary with a stained glass window as its backdrop. It offers brides an entry like no other.  I have literally never seen anything like it. In the almost sixty years that our church as been at this location, we've hosted a lot of weddings.

We also do a good amount of funerals though not for the same reasons. I've yet to see a casket carried down that spiral staircase. (However, if someone stumbles across this blog as they are planning my funeral, please, please, please consider it. That'd be awesome.)  Instead some chose our facility because our pastor feels passionately about offering funeral services for free. You read that right, free. He meets with the families, comes to work on his days off, and doesn't get paid for them.

You might think the two events are vastly different. After all, one has the promise of days to come; the other looks back at what used to be. However, they are more similar than most imagine. Both are centered on hope: hope of a life to come and hope of a life now lived in eternity. Both are filled with family and friends and stories that start with the question Remember when? Both are filled with laughter and tears. Both have music, and food, and hugs. Both center around a time of togetherness and a shared spirit.

But what happens if you are the unfortunate person attending a wedding after having a major fight with your spouse? Rejoicing with those who rejoice isn't as easy then. What happens if you attend a funeral the morning you were supposed to leave on vacation? Sure, you still mourn, but a part of you is looking forward to leaving on your trip.

The command in Romans 12:15 is found in a section my Bible calls "Love in Action." In modern lingo, we might call it sympathy, a common feeling between people. When believers come together, it is so much more than that. It is "doing life" together, as the modern church loves to say.  It is community. It is bringing hearts together in worship to God. It is the Spirit of God in me joining together with the Spirit of God in you. It is beautiful.

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