Friday Norma Jean and I were in Temple Terrace enjoying time with our grandchildren Roy,6½, and Fern, age 4.
“Let’s go on an excursion,” I said to the kids.
“What’s an excursion?” Roy asked.
“It’s like a school field trip,” Grammy explained.
After a quick stop at Dollar Tree to buy some (artificial) flowers and giving them each a dollar to buy a treat, we headed to Sunset Memorial Gardens where my parents, Roy and Mattie Weliever are buried.
“What’s this?” they wondered out loud as we arrived.
“What’s a cemetery?”
I explained it’s where people are buried when they die.
When we got out of the car, we sat on a bench to explain why we were there and what we were doing. Quickly, Fern, exclaimed, “This is a beautiful place!” as she surveyed the headstones decorated with flowers.
When Roy came over, I began explaining the history of Memorial Day. He brightened up and said, “I studied about Memorial Day in school.”
“Were these people in the army?” he inquired.
“Some of them,” I said. “But not everyone. On Memorial Day we honor all of our loved ones who’ve died whether they were in the army or not.”
When we walked over to the gravesite, I explained that my parents, who were his Mommy’s Mamaw and Papaw were buried there. Quickly, he spotted my Dad’s name, Roy, and smiled. “Yes, you were named after him. He was your great-grandfather. And, yes, he was in the army.”
Before leaving, to explore other gravesites, Fern looked up and surprisingly asked, “Will these people come alive again?”
When I replied, “Yes.” And explained that when Jesus comes again, everyone would come out of the grave, her eyes brighten and widened, as her face exuded wonder and awe. “Wow!”
The experience has left me thinking about the need to honestly teach children about life and death in age-appropriate terms. It also speaks to the importance of passing on the legacy from one generation to the next. Roy and Fern’s great grand-parents have bequeathed a spiritual legacy of faithfulness and fidelity to the Lord and his Word. A heritage of honor. Commitment. Love for others. Work-ethic. And personal responsibility.
Their child-like curiosity and excitement also is a good reminder for us as we come to the Lord’s memorial supper today. It’s easy for communion to become commonplace. To take it for granted, since we’ve been here before. Many times.
Today, let’s approach the Lord’s memorial with fresh eyes. Reflective minds. Tender hearts. Let’s meditate on His mission and ministry. Let’s visualize His sacrificial death. And let’s be sure our focus is cross-centered.
Never forget, we come to honor Him whose grave is empty. But He will come again one day to call us out of the grave unto the resurrection of life eternal.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman