It was Spring. 1963. The family of faith had once again gathered in their small church on the prairie … A funeral was about to be observed on that dark, drizzly April morning. “Anything but a Holy Week,” I thought to myself. In the midst of life, we were surrounded by death.
I sat next to my mother, toward the front of the sanctuary. All mortal flesh of my six-year-old self was keeping silent. For I was staring in disbelief at a little white coffin in front of the altar. The coffin so small, as was the little girl that it cradled. The first born and precious daughter of John and Margaret – two of my parents’ best friends. As I sat there, staring toward the altar, a voice welled-up from deep within me that whispered: “Can’t some-BODY do something?”
I remembered the day John and Margaret had brought their little girl home, snuggled-up in a soft pink blanket. I remembered the day she had been baptized, wrapped in the swaddling cloths of God’s claiming Word: “You are my beloved daughter. On you my favor rests.”
She was so little. Only a few months old. Too young to die! … My mother told me that even the doctors were baffled. Such deep sadness … “But can’t some-BODY do something?!” I said to my mother, now louder. “Sssshhh” came the reply. “Just listen …” The silence was deafening.
John and Margaret were now walking past me up the center aisle of the sanctuary with my father, who was the pastor. Margaret was carrying a small blanket: the soft pink one. That homecoming one. Their daughter’s favorite. Slowly John and Margaret shuffled-up next to the coffin, as Margaret tucked the blanket around her little girl.
And then Margaret said something I’ll never forget. It was the Word of God speaking though Margaret’s faith-filled words – breaking the mourning, the silence – responding to my desperate question …
Not out of fantasy but faith, Margaret leaned over the casket and whispered: “Good night, sweetheart. I’ll see you in the morning.” And behind Margaret stood the Cross. Yes, some-BODY had done something!! And in the midst of death, we were surrounded by life!
“Do you not know,” witnesses St. Paul, “that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” (Romans 6:3-4)
Pastor John Christopherson