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They Are Still With You

Beloved, As we are closing out another month in the year of our Lord, 2021, we are still dealing with the realities of life. We are born. We live. And, we die. Covid-19 has brought the possibility and reality of death to a point of commonality for the whole world. Within our own families, in the church family, in our friend groups, our work groups, our community groups, or just plain paying attention to the news cycle, Covid-19 has eclipsed the sense of isolation for many when it comes to the often cited phrase, "How did they die?" Everybody, directly or indirectly, knows someone who has passed from Covid-19. In dealing with death, it can seem like that is the end. But, as Christians, we know that death is simply a point of transition similar to birth being a point of transition. We leave Heaven in the imagination of God the Father with the possibility of revealing the image of God, the Imago Dei, as we give our natural lives back to God through God the Son, Jesus the Christ, so that we can be imparted God the Holy Spirit to guide us back to the place of our origin, Heaven. And, then, according to scripture, we become a part of another group, a cloud of witnesses. I preached a sermon series on your faith family from Hebrews 11 that, prayerfully, opened your prophetic imagination to the reality that you have a family that is much larger than the one you were born into. Being born again added you into the family of faith. And, beloved, your faith family may transition but they never ever truly leave you. In death, they just have a bit of a head start in going where you will one day also go. Losing a loved one is hard...really hard. As a pastor and a minister, I have had to officiate, participate, and eulogize in services for many loved ones seeking to provide comfort in the homegoing celebration to diminish some of the pain of the loss while also trying to encourage and instigate a measure of continued faith in God that can be lost in the process of bereavement and grief. And, to truly do so, we have to believe in what God says in God's Holy Word, the Bible, and know that God's word is sovereign and true. If we do so, we must understand that we, those who are still living, bear a responsibility and an accountability to live on and to live well for the cause of Christ. We are our departed loved ones legacy and they are still with us, just in another place. The writer of Hebrews put it this way in Hebrews 12:1, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (a cloud representing the spiritual existence of those who are no longer physically with us), let us also lay aside every weight and sin that clings so closely (faith unto death is how our faith is rewarded after death), and let us run with perseverance the race set before us (the baton of life lived for our blood family and faith family is passed to us)," Beloved, God has a great work for all of us to do and we have one season to do it, this life. Being concerned with things that do not really matter is the surest way to waste your most valuable asset, time. Those who have gone on before us would tell us one thing in particular, "Live life well and do not waste your time." How are we to avoid wasting our time? We must be focused. Those on the other side of glory would tell us that. And, what would they tell us to focus on? Jesus. As Hebrews 12:2 reveals, "looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God." Beloved, like a drum major leading the band, Jesus Christ is your biggest cheerleader and He wants you to stay focused on Him because of what He has done in offering you salvation from sin and eternal life. Your loved ones who died in faith have already gotten their reward and they are a part of the Christian band that is cheering you on, wanting you to understand that living faithfully is worth it. If you have made it this far through this message, I want you to call out the names of those who have transitioned to the other side of glory, who you miss, who, if they were still here with you, would encourage you in your faith walk. I list - Jessie Williams, Mary Cain, Henry Cain, Anna Kimber, Julian Brown, Alma Brown, James Edwards, Alma Cain, Randell A. Cain, Sr., Norma Jones, Dr. John Griffin, Lena Mae Spaulding, DaLinda Brown-Clark, Reverend Wesley Elam, Sr., Cecil Johnson, Reverend Dr. Albert Aymer, and, and, and, and, and.... These are just a few people who I believe are on the other side of glory watching me, who are still with me, encouraging me. Beloved, death can be a burden but with a Christian perspective, death can also be a blessing. One season of life ends and another season of life begins. Live into the blessing of knowing that you are still here and those who have transitioned are still with you as well...and one day, you will be with them again. If you need some encouragement, connect for Noonday Prayer. If you need some word, connect for our sermonic message on The Light radio/internet broadcast at 3pm. If you need some knowledge, connect for HOPE Wednesday this evening at 6:30pm. If you need to get your praise on, gather with us on Sunday morning at 11am, preferably in-person, but also via FaceBook Live and Zoom teleconference. Beloved, this is the best season of life you can live because it is the only season of life that you have. Live it well as those who have gone before you would have you to. Why? Because God loves you and I love you too! Be blessed, Rev. Cain


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