Women and Funerals
Texas barbecue, honey-baked ham, cold cuts, potato salad, green Jell-O mixed with cottage cheese, and I’m guessing, cool whip, baked beans, string beans, fresh tomatoes, peach cobbler, pecan pie, and banana pudding—combinations of these ingredients make funerals in Texas bearable. For years in the pastorate when I finished saying “Amen” at the graveside I could look up and smile, “Everyone is invited back to the church fellowship hall (or sometimes someone’s home) where our church ladies have prepared a special meal for you as family and guests.”
We would arrive, the meal was ready, and when our church lady in charge gave me the go ahead, I would call everyone to attention and bless the food. More comfort was poured out by these servants pouring tea and serving potato salad than all my funeral sermons put together. Godly women somehow know how to help folks when it comes to grieving, and Matthew doesn’t ignore their role. He calls our attention to the women at Jesus’ death.
“Now there were also many women who had followed Jesus from the beginning of His ministry. They watched from a distance as He died. These women had followed Him from Galilee ministering to His needs, among whom were Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.” - Matthew 27:55-56
Matthew goes on to tell how Joseph of Arimathea, one of the members of the Sanhedrin with Nicodemus, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. When Jesus’ inner circle had run away, Joseph goes public declaring his devotion to Jesus. He takes Jesus’ body down from the cross, wraps it in a clean linen shroud, and then places it in his own tomb carved out of the rock. After rolling a large stone in place in front of the tomb, the men leave. Then Matthew turns our attention back to the women –women who will play a key role in the resurrection narrative to come.
“Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there sitting in front of the tomb.” - Matthew 27:61
LORD, I’ve seen my sisters in Christ again and again by their loving actions soothe grieving hearts when my words were like clanging symbols. Help me to be like Matthew. Help me to see and express appreciation for all those in Your family who don’t use their mouth but who, behind the scenes, pour healing salve in the wounds of grief by their caring hands. And Lord, in a world of Wendy’s and Chick-fil-a, I pray that those magical banana pudding and peach cobbler recipes will not be lost forever.
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