I carried the casket of my uncle LuVerne yesterday and watched it be lowered into the ground. The somber day transported me back into childhood as I remembered happy memories of Thanksgiving on the farm with all the aunts and uncles and cousins.
Burned into my memory are two images of Uncle LuVerne: first, a jolly uncle playing a polka on the accordion accompanied by my mom on the piano as people danced around the drafty farmhouse kitchen; the second, a suffering uncle lying on the floor in the bedroom with back pain missing out on the fun.
Standing by the graveside yesterday, those two images emerged again. By the grace of God, LuVerne has been released from his pain and suffering, and is celebrating this Thanksgiving at that Great Polka Feast in Heaven (unless the angels deem polka better fit for the other place). He is in the “no more tears place.”
Cherish your family this day as you gather. Remember the good times of the past, and keep an eternal perspective regarding the future. Let all political differences be drowned in the gravy for 24 hours. Play the out-of-tune piano, break out the instrument you haven’t played in years, and dance around the kitchen. That happy scene may burn itself into a child’s memory and be a gift 30 years later.
Let weary adults make the best of things and make it a memorable day for the children who are unaware of all the burdens of adulthood that haunt the room. “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Col 3:13).
Today is a day to turn our eyes upon all our blessings that shimmer and sparkle like diamonds through the blackness of a coal stained world. I’m grateful for healthy kids and an amazing wife, employment and income, good schools and loving friends and family. Mostly, I’m glad there’s a Light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.
As I stood by the grave yesterday, I gave thanks for the conversation between Mary and the angel outside Jesus’ empty tomb 2,000 years ago, where the angel said, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here.”
Someday others will stand by my grave as the casket is lowered, and in spite of the chilly breeze, grieving hearts can be warmed by the hopeful promise, “He is not here! Why are you looking for the living among the dead? Jeremy is making music with Uncle LuVerne in the Heavenly Kitchen. So let’s dance.”
Uncle LuVerne (and his brother David) used to tease us little cousins back in the day saying, “Come here and I’ll put you in my pocket.” He wore a leather tool pouch on his belt that I was sure was a special pocket for little boys. We would giggle and run the other way. This week God turned to LuVerne and said something similar: “Come here and I’ll hide you in the shadow of my wings…and show you the wonders of my great love” (Ps 17:7-8).