October 2017  
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Chappy’s Corner “Rest in Peace!”

The local funeral director told me, “Don’t worry Dave I will be the last person to ever let you down!”  His words were not necessarily words of comfort but they reminded me of the following story.

In northern Minnesota a private two passenger plane crashed in the local town cemetery. The mayor put Ole and Swen in charge of the crash investigation. After three days Ole and Swen reported they had forty five victims from the crash, but they were still finding more crash victims at the site.

Some might think only Ole and Swen could mess up something as simple as counting up to two but when the government gets involved nothing is simple.  Or maybe one should say “when the government is shut down nothing is simple.”  The big news this past week is that family members of military personnel who had died in the war would not be getting any funds that they normally get to help with immediate expenses. Thankfully a private organization was contacted and has provided the funds until the government gets back on track and can reimburse the organization.

Honoring those who die in battle is a long standing tradition in this country and amongst most nations. As a chaplain I have stood by many families as the twenty one gun salute is fired, taps are played and the flag is folded.  All of this is done with the utmost honor and respect for the one who has served. But then comes the moment when the folded flag is given to the family member and the service over.

The ceremony is over but the sorrow and grief one experiences is still there. A folded flag can’t remove it.  In fact the grief caused by any death will last for months or years and in some cases especially the loss of a child one never truly stops grieving.  People may move on, but their life is different because death has struck and robbed them of one they love and it hurts.  The apostle Paul described it as the “sting of death” and indeed death does sting if all one has is this life now.  If this is all there is, then death is the final curtain.

Thankfully for those in the Christian faith death is never the final act. God’s word states, “O death where is thy sting, O grave where is thy victory. The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law, but thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Corinthians 15) 

A story that illustrates that Bible verse involves one little boy who was allergic to bee stings. He began to panic when he saw a bee flying around him, but his father told him, “Don’t worry! It can’t hurt you, because it only has one stinger and it stung me first, so you are safe.” In the same way Christ died to pay the price for our sin and then he rose from the dead to remove the sting of death over us.  Death’s has lost its sting because of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. In the midst of our sorrow we find comfort and hope in Christ’s victory and we know that in the end Christ will never let us down! So we can rest in His peace!

 

That’s just my thoughts from this SE corner of South Dakota!

CH (COL) David Gunderson

JFHQ SDARNG