THE TALKING TOMB
Rev. Jim Henry, Pastor
You may call me a little bit strange, but sometimes I can't keep away from walking through old cemeteries. There is something about them because there is so much history in an old cemetery. If you read them, you can see people's lives, you can see a country, you can see a world. You can see so much on those tombstones. They just seem to talk. In Switzerland, for instance, the people are buried there in the graveyards by the church.
I hope, someday, we will have a graveyard and mausoleum here at our church. We have a lot of land here and I hope that will become a reality for us, because it is certainly part of the church's life.
In Switzerland, they bury you, not with family plots, but they bury you in the church area, and they bury by the date you died, in neat little rows. A 34 year-old woman had died and on her tombstone was her name and one word, "Why?" Four crosses back, a 74 year-old man had died and on his tombstone were these words: "We do not need to ask God why." What an interesting lesson must have gone on in that community when that took place!
If you go to Mount Carmel in Israel, down at the base of that mountain range you will find a very interesting thing. There are tombs of Rabbis of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th centuries. Entering into one tomb on one side is a very interesting word concerning one Rabbi, and it says: "Good luck in your resurrection." The other side says: "Be comforted, my father. No one knows what is before you." Two interesting theologies are taking place there. That is better than one man who had a friend who relocated his business and he sent him some flowers, but unfortunately, they ended up at some man's funeral. The note on the flowers said, "Good luck at your new location."
Tombstones are fascinating. One, I think, is just choice. Written on some man's tombstone is: "Pause, stranger, as you pass by. As you are now, so once was I. As I am now so you will be. So prepare for death and follow me." Under it some one had written in chalk: "To follow you I am not content until I know which way you went."
Tombstones talk, don't they? They just say so much. When Jesus was crucified and they put him in Joseph of Arimathea's borrowed tomb, an interesting thing took place. Let's look at this fascinating experience on resurrection morning 2000 years ago in Jerusalem. In the Book of John 20:1: Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the entrance. So she came running to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one Jesus loved, and said, "They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we don't know where they have put him!" So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen ...
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