1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NRSV)
13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. 15For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. 16For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel's call and with the sound of God's trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.
I’ll never forget my grandma’s smile just days before she passed away. “Death will be like taking off a tight shoe!” she softly whispered from her hospice bed. On some deep level she knew that her pain and suffering would soon be alleviated in death. She was getting closer and closer to experiencing the full embrace of her Creator. As she neared her final breaths, we sang her favorite hymns and watched her slowly fade into her next chapter. Feeling deep sadness in our hearts, we did our best to grieve like ones who had hope in the resurrection. It’s not just these dramatic life and death moments where we can rely on Christ-breathed hope. We also remember the promise of resurrection in our everyday struggles as we pray for the tight shoe of sin and sorrow to be removed.
Christ of the resurrection, you came to bring us life abundantly. Breathe into us with your hope. Breathe into our bones the truth of new life so deep that even death cannot be a barrier from your love. Amen.