1 Corinthians 15:12-20 (NRSV)
Verse 12Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? Verse 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised; Verse 14and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. Verse 15We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ-whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. Verse 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. Verse 17If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Verse 18Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. Verse 19If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.
Verse 20But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.
The burial of a loved one is a sacred time. Often, tears that may have been held back are finally shed. There is finality to the experience. It's now time to bury the body or ashes. It's time for a last goodbye, a final flower laid in tribute upon the casket. The separation and sting of death are very real in this moment.
Yet into this very real moment of separation, we proclaim hope. We proclaim resurrection. We proclaim that in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God has defeated the powers of sin and death. In conquering these foes, the same God who called forth creation out of chaos is able to call us by name out of death into resurrected life. Suddenly this final goodbye is transformed into a "see you later." God's victory in Christ's resurrection is ours. In Jesus we have a future. I look forward to the reunion.
God, the empty tomb is a sign of your great victory over death. Sustain us with the promise of resurrection when we entrust our loved ones, and our very lives, into your care. Amen.