Watching a movie just now and a funeral scene with pews filled with mourners wearing their all-black attire evoked memories of another funeral some 22 years ago. I couldn’t help but stop to write…because at that funeral…we wore bright colors that day.
My formation, spiritually, has always been tethered, tightly perhaps, to my parents. I know Jesus because of what they knew about Jesus. It hit me the other day. Because of conviction my family left our all black traditional church we were reared in when I was 12 years old. I complained then. But at 42 I remain so grateful. That began what I called our church hopping years. We were apostolic, charismatic, baptist, all white churches, multiethnic, you name it we were there. Gospel music. Christian contemporary. Christian Rock. Christian island music. To this day there is no one radio station that can capture the fruit I gleaned musically and culturally during those years.
Reflecting on those years the other day it hit me: those years are why I love diverse, multiethnic churches. Thats why God landed us at Southwest to love the people of that valley. A people rich in diversity and culture and backgrounds. That’s why I love preaching to a mixed bag of folks across all ages, backgrounds, political spectrums, and views. Because mom and dad were crazy enough to show us everything under the sun for loving God’s people. They were filled with joy. Laughter. Zeal. And optimism. What gifts our days at 447 Old Whitfield Road in Pearl, Mississippi were.
But that doesn’t mean our days were not tough. My Dad, trying to love and pursue Jesus as the Spirit led him suffered hardship and ostracism for taking our family out of “the church” and making his own way in ministry. He was therefore the most bravest leader. Thanks Dad for showing me courage. My mama suffered many illnesses before succumbing to cancer in 1997. Yet she fervently walked in the Spirit all those days. Thanks Mama for showing me the glory of Romans 8:28.
Hardships shape you into something better. Something stronger. Something more closer to Christ than what you would’ve been without the trouble. Our family was graced with the good and the bad and it was yet and still all God. Glory to His Holy Name.
Jesus is hope. Jesus is light. Jesus is joy filled tears. Jesus is relief. Jesus is peace. Jesus is comfort. Jesus is friendship.
So mama said one day…years before she died I guess: “they always wear dark clothes at funerals. But if you got Jesus even your funeral is not entirely sad. Because there’s joy on the other side.” When she passed Dad hauled us to the mall to buy appropriate dress clothes for her home going. And on a Saturday in March, 1997, our family walked down that center aisle in light khaki suits and pastel dresses like it was Easter Sunday. It wasn’t Easter of course. It was Mom’s funeral. But for us we knew there’d also been a resurrection God had given her. She found joy on the other side.
And so shall he give to us some day.
May we press on. May we lean into Christ. May we live out our days for adventure’s sake realizing that a day in Christ is the greatest resource one could have. Let us live loud. Let us love graciously. Let us fiercely pursue Christ and others. Let us make the best of it. And when they lay us down, may our children wear bright clothes that day.