Molly and I watched last week-end the funeral service of Barbara Bush. Every once in a while a public family in America leads the nation in a solemn memorial to a beloved member of their family. And each time, the American people are brought back to the first things of the faith. The great scriptures are read. Mighty music is played. A message of Christian faith is proclaimed. The words of Jesus are spoken loud and clear.
Sometimes grandchildren read scripture, wearing their black dresses and probably uncomfortable dark suits. Perhaps a riderless horse, with boots strapped into the stirrups in reverse, is led in the long cortege.
We had it only weeks ago with the service for "America's Pastor," Dr. Billy Graham. We had it in 1963 following the assassination of America's young president. And then again the moving service for a feisty, beloved First Lady, who had told her son she believed in Jesus and was ready to go to Him in Heaven, and to be reunited there with precious people she had lost in life.
The wonder of television allows the nation to be in the church in Houston, or the Graham Center in North Carolina, or the National Cathedral in Washington.
We may be going secular as a country. We may be losing, and failing to live by the "faith of our Fathers." But, when death comes to people of faith, great truths are lifted up for all to see, and simple words of Truth echo again across the land, and in our hearts. And we are taught, not by priests and pastors, but by families of faith, that Jesus lives, and inhabits the hearts of those who still follow Him. And the nation's faith is re-awakened, and many are touched by truth again and stirred again to walk the high road with Jesus and His millions of followers across the earth.
But of course, these people who die nobly, in faith, have for the most part, lived courageously in life. At the time of their death we learn wonderful and winsome things about their lives. As leaders among us they have provoked controversy, they have taken risks, they have tried to do "the right thing" despite criticism and rejection.
Barbara Bush said what she felt, and a whole wide family loved her. Billy Graham preached Good News about God's love, and our need to come Home to God. Many are those of faith among us who today "take up their cross," and follow Jesus.
In life and in death, these people, our fellow Americans, teach us the ways of dignity, of humble faith, of courageous living. They remind us of the good things of life, which are the same things Jesus has taught us.
In life and in death, we are called to eternal things, to the great joy in living, and to what true life is all about. What wonderful opportunities we have, to learn from our fellow travelers, the ways to live this high adventure.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES
All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation. . ."