Thursday, November 18, 2010

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

bringing body to lukitaThe Women bring Mamu Jaqueline Nyemba to be buried

The sun was intense. Umbrellas bloomed everywhere. They just brought the coffin from the church service. A long stream of cars drove at a walker’s pace. We walked with the multitude. After greeting some friends, we walked closer to the actual grave site. People were everywhere. We were standing about 200 feet from where she would be buried. The coffin, shouldered by about 10 women, passed us by. The bereaved and I greeted one another. From above, we could look down and see the sprawl. I could hear a few people speak below, but with the frivolous chatter above, I couldn’t hear much. Something propelled me forward. I went down, and entered another world.

DSCN4485 The crowd below (another world)

The intensity of the crowd was jarring, and overwhelming for many. The atmosphere was altogether separate from watching above. Death was right in front of us, visible in the form of a coffin and a fresh hole in the ground. I looked at individual faces, observing reactions to this fate-filled reality. Some stood with curious stares. Many sobbed and wailed. A host of women resisted, opposing the coffin’s entry into the ground. Screams, shouts and cries filled the air. We seemed on the precipice of chaos.

Magically and rhythmically, one of the pastors began singing a familiar hymn. “The blood of Jesus is our salvation,” we sang. The tide slowly turned. Peace gained the upper hand. Another pastor spoke up, reminding us of the “spiritual war of our faith.” Death is a threat to our faith in a loving God. Another pastor spoke words of comfort. He prayed a faith-filled prayer that touched my heart, renewing and strengthening my faith in a loving and caring God. His prayer reminded us that there is life beyond death. Death does not have the final word.

Jesus said to Martha in the book of John, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes this will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11: 25-26)

Prayer: Lord, we entrust your servant Mamu Jaqueline Nyemba into your loving embrace. We entrust others we love into your loving arms as well. We trust and believe that You are a God of love and forgiveness. For those of us who hope in You and choose to walk in Your ways, there is hope for eternal life…life beyond a coffin and a fresh hole in the ground.

“Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting"?” (1 Corinthians 15: 55, Hosea 13: 14)

1 comment:

Patti Lacy said...

Beautiful reminder that whether we live in the Congo or in Normal, death is not our goodbye but just our hello to eternal life.