My grandmother Ethel died on Christmas Day 1968 and it wasn’t as sad as it could have been. We cried. But I remember – even at 12 – that it was fortunate that she got to see her whole family who were in town for the holidays. She had lived a very full and beautiful life, and at last she was no longer in pain.
Pastors can attest to the fact that many church people die at Christmastime. Sometimes it’s horribly tragic and sometimes it feels a bit less traumatic.
And all of us can pinpoint deaths this time of year that are senseless and beyond brutal. The Christmas eve car accident. The (God help us) mass shooting.
HH attended a funeral yesterday that he didn’t officiate, which is rare. The lovely woman who passed away had lived a remarkable life, blessed with more than the threescore and ten that the Psalmist suggests. She almost made 90.
Here’s the best part: her family printed her Secret Polish Apple Cake Recipe on the back of the funeral bulletin.
It got me thinking: what recipe would I want on the back of my funeral bulletin? What last “secret thing” would we like our family and friends to know that only we can share?
Maybe it wouldn’t be a recipe. Maybe it would be the secret to getting the baby to sleep, or the secret way to get the lawn mower started, or the secret way to live a life that others want to emulate. That last one is a little presumptuous, so it probably wouldn’t happen.
What gift do we want to give for people to carry with them beyond our deaths? It’s a good thing to be thinking about now, Because we who follow Jesus can bet that God had already considered this long before Jesus was born.
So now I’m headed to the kitchen to bake Betty’s Polish Apple Cake. I didn’t know her but I love her.