On Monday I officiated the funeral of a 93-year-old woman who lived a quiet, normal life that revolved around home, family, and church. She was conservative, sweet, kind, generous, sincere, and faithful to her family and her God. She served others as an expression of her love for God, but her acts of service did not generate publicity or come with a press release. So, she largely went unnoticed since she preferred to work behind the scenes. But those who knew her appreciated her and respected her.
After the funeral service, I joined the family in the funeral procession to the gravesite where this woman would be buried alongside her husband who had passed 17 years earlier.
As we drove up Robinson Street, we passed by a man in big black boots, black jeans, and a black leather jacket walking along the sidewalk. He looked to be in his 20s. He also had a pink mohawk that looked like this:
So, he caught my attention.
As the hearse slowly made its way up the street, the man in the pink mohawk bowed his head and made the sign of the cross across his chest that is most associated with Catholics.
It was a touching sign of respect and honor for the deceased and the deceased’s family.
And it got me thinking.
On the surface, the woman in the hearse and the man in the pink mohawk could not have been more different. But death has a way of tearing down all the walls of division we humans create and connecting us in a common manner, even if it’s briefly. That’s because we intuitively know that death comes to us all, and no one beats it.
Death humbles us.
At the graveside service, I reminded the family that the greatest thing that can be said about their loved one is that she was a baptized believer in Jesus Christ who faithfully followed Him. Consequently, they can be filled with peace because the Christian story redefines death as a transition and not the end of a person’s existence.
The apostle Paul points this out in Romans 6:3-5: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus, were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
Paul makes this point again in 1 Thessalonians 4:14: “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep.”
The Christian story proclaims that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ defeated death through his resurrection and invites us into his victory over death through our own resurrection from the dead.
That truth fills the Christian with hope in this life and in the life to come, so that we do not have to live in fear of dying.
That’s good news!
And what makes this good news even better is that Jesus’ invitation is offered to all people.
Even to men with pink mohawks.