Highway to … Hope

Posted: June 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

When I plan memorial services, one question I always ask the family is “Do you have a special song, something meaningful that you would like played during the service?”  I was doing a memorial service for a young man and I asked that question of his sister and she was quick to respond.  She said that one time her brother had told her that he wanted the song “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC played at his funeral.  After a minute my answer was “I can make that work.”  My goal is to honor him and his family, and to hopefully provide some comfort and hope.  If it takes a little AC/DC to accomplish that, so be it.

 

< ”Highway to Hell” >  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBjwMSIC7ik

 

We are all on a highway to hell.  We have all been infected since birth by a disease called sin. The world is a broken place and sometimes life can be disappointing, painful and tragic. In spite of these times, life is a wonderful gift. I went on to talk about some of the memories and special moments that had been shared with me by family members.  As good and happy as these times were, we all go through bad times, as well. Being human, we all make our share of mistakes, we fall, we fail and we often don’t measure up to the standards of the world.

The good news is that even though we all may be on the highway to hell, Jesus has other plans for us.  And his plan is for all of us.  There are no qualifications required and nothing we need to do to earn it.  It’s a free gift available to each one of us.

Jesus told a story about a man with two sons.  The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.  “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant country, and there he wasted all his money in wild living.  About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve.  He was hired by a local farmer who sent him into his fields to feed the pigs.  The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything to eat. He finally came to his senses and said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger!  I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please hire me as a servant.”

                So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.  His son started the speech he had been rehearsing, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.”  But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.  And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.  The son was on the highway to hell, the road to destruction, but the father welcomed him home with open arms.  This is how God is with us.  He lets us go our own way, but is always waiting and watching for our return.

Jesus and his disciples were on the way to Jerusalem.  He had already told them that when they arrived in Jerusalem that he would be killed.  They were upset and afraid, and Jesus tried to reassure them about death.   John, chapter 14 records what he told them: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.  My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

                 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.  Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  Jesus told his disciples not to be afraid because he knew that death is not the end … that there is more after our life here is over.  Heaven is real, and imagining what heaven is like gives us hope.

 

< “When I Get Where I am Going” > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yYHT-TF4KO4

 

I reminded the friends and family that the life of the young man who had died was full but way too short.   I said, “Remember him and what he means to you.  Cherish the time you were able to spend with him. And know that death is not the end, but a new beginning. My prayer is that you all draw close … reminisce together, laugh together, grieve together and weep together.  I also pray that sometime soon you will begin to see the hope; that pain will be replaced by warm memories, that tears will be replaced by smiles, that we will embrace this truth – he is with his mother, healthy and pain-free, in a place created just for him since the dawn of time.”  Amen.

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