“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Jesus said that. It’s one of the beatitudes, that beautiful set of thoughts with which he began his Sermon on the Mount. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
As you mourn today, you may not feel much of a blessing. We have lost someone very dear to us. My Grandpa has lost his wife. My dad has lost his mother. I have lost my Grandma. She was a part of us, an important part of us, and now she is gone. Many of us are experiencing an internal emptiness that is hard to explain. It’s an emptiness, a deep sense of loss, that you can only understand if you’ve gone through it yourself.
And so we mourn. We mourn for the one we loved. We mourn for ourselves, and the life we must live without her. And it’s good to mourn. It’s okay to cry. It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of your humanity. Grandma impacted us all, and one of the ways that we honor her today, is to mourn, to grieve, that she is gone.
Miriam Holt has left us a legacy that is worthy of honor. She devoted herself to Jesus. As a teenager, she wrote this in her journal:
“I, Miriam Muir do solemnly swear that I will keep the following resolution to the best of my ability, made on this day, January 1st, 1943. Since I have consecrated my life to my Savior, I must act accordingly. This includes daily reading and communications, witnessing, etc… that He may live through me and I trust Him completely. And give Him back his tenth, and more. This seems to cover everything,… I had thought of others, but they seem so insignificant now, as if they are all taken care of in the above.”Grandma kept that New Year’s resolution for nearly 70 years. The legacy of commitment to Christ predates even her, though. The story is told of how her mother, Mary Muir, passed by a bedroom doorway as a child and saw her grandmother praying, with arms raised, for God’s blessing on her family and the generations that would descend from them. That prayer was offered over 100 years ago by either Susanah Funk or Elizabeth Maurer, both of which are my great-great-great-grandmothers. Five generations later, and now even to six generations, we can testify that that prayer has been answered with a “Yes.”
Grandma loved to travel. She took me to Israel after I graduated high school. We visited all the sites in the holy land together. In Jerusalem we went to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and then to the Garden Tomb. Both sites claim to be the place where Jesus was crucified and buried. We prayed at the wailing wall, where I had to don a paper yamaka to get in. We spent a night at a kibbutz on the border of Lebanon. We went to Bethlehem and into the cave where Jesus was born. We travelled out onto the Sea of Galilee, saw the Jesus boat, then down the Jordan river to the Dead Sea. We climbed up Masada, and saw where the Dead Sea scrolls were discovered in the desert. It was a wonderful trip, a great time spent with Grandma.
When we were kids, Grandma always had the kids over for a weekend, or even for a full week. We loved to make cookie dough. I’m sure we eventually baked the cookies, but the real prize was the cookie dough. We would climb onto that kitchen table peninsula as she got out the mixer. The real prize was to lick the mixers clean.
In the summer we would go to White Star Quarry, which had been turned into a beautiful beach. We loved swimming at White Star, going past the buoys to where the big kids jumped off the rafts, and, when we got a little older, jumping off the really tall high dive.
Grandma loved to sew, and she always making something. My favorite was the swim trunks she made us. You have to remember that this was way back in the early ‘90s, and so for bathing suits what the boys wanted was black biker shorts with a big neon stripe up the side. They were awesome. Thankfully, we were too skinny for them to be as tight as regular biker shorts.
Grandma also became a convenient alibi whenever my mom served me a dinner I wasn’t interested in eating. “I don’t like this,” I would say. “How do you know,” she’d reply, indignant, “you’ve never had it before.” “Yuh-huh. At Grandma’s.”
But what I remember most about Grandma, and what had a lasting impact on me, was her love and commitment to Jesus. She faithfully read the Scriptures, incorporated herself into the life of her church, prayed, and strove to live a life that was pleasing to God. She was a woman of godly character and integrity. There is nothing about her that we have to conveniently forget, no element of her life or character that we must gloss over in order to honor her memory. She lived well, and so we remember her well. Here commitment to Jesus has yielded fruit down through the generations.
And so we gather today to mourn, but we also receive comfort. We receive comfort in knowing that, not only is she with Jesus in heaven today, but one day she will rise from the dead and live forever. Because of her faith in Jesus, death will not have the final word for Grandma.
We are comforted when we mourn because we know that Jesus rose from the dead, conquering death. We know that, through faith in him, we too will rise from the dead to everlasting life. Death is not the final word for those who call on the name of Jesus in this life. We mourn her passing, but we are comforted by the hope we have in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This hope is available to all. Sometimes we feel as though we’re not worthy to have this hope, to receive the forgiveness of sins, or to be saved. We feel as though it’s too late for us. But that’s not true. The resurrection of Jesus Christ has already happened. You can no more earn the resurrection of Jesus than you can the American Revolution. It’s a past event. God has already sent his Son to die for you. The hope of the resurrection of Jesus has been available to you for nearly 2,000 years. It’s not a matter of being worthy, it’s a matter of embracing the reality of the historical fact of Jesus’s death and resurrection.
Grandma embraced this fact. She embraced Jesus. And now her hope has been realized. And while we mourn, she longs for us to be comforted with the comfort she has in her Savior, Jesus Christ.