Bob Lonsberry

Bob Lonsberry

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Lonsberry: JESUS AND ELIZABETH AND THE FUNERAL ON TV

        This morning, in the funeral of a widowed great-grandmother in London, more people heard Christ proclaimed at one time than ever have in the history of mankind.

 

               As the world’s largest religion contracts in the face of a secular and faithless world, a small group of believers this morning gave reason for the hope that is within them. In the pomp and ceremony of the British was the pure and simple assertion of the Christian – that Jesus lived, that he died, and that he rose again that all might rise again, saved not just from physical death, but, if they chose, from spiritual death as well.

 

               In a masterful reading from First Corinthians, a black immigrant girl risen in England to title and power, the Baroness Scotland of Asthal, proclaimed the eternal truth that death is overcome in Christ and that its sting – the sorrow of sin – is also defeated in the sacrifice of the Son of God.

 

               As the world looked in at this historic leave taking, hoping perchance for the spectacle of all things royal, the dominant spirit was the Spirit, an air not of the regal, but of the divine. In the day of empty churches, some four billion people around the world gathered to hear and see and feel the testimony of Jesus Christ proclaimed in word and song, and in the long life of “our sister Elizabeth.”

 

               It wasn’t a faith tradition, it was the gospel of God, his plan for our salvation, the absolute truth upon which our lives, this world and the eternities is built. The entire service revolved around the unflinching declaration of Jesus that he is “the way, the truth, and the life,” and that, in his unwavering words, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

 

               That testimony resounded in the ears and echoed in the hearts of more people at one time than has ever been the case.

 

               That fact can be seen as a novelty, or as an opportunity.

 

               An opportunity to ponder faith in our own lives, and an opportunity to share faith with those around us.

 

               Elizabeth and those who spoke at her funeral believe in the historical reality and eternal necessity of Jesus Christ. They believe he was born in Bethlehem and was crucified in Jerusalem, that he taught a saving gospel for three years and rose from a garden tomb on the third day, that he alone holds the keys of our salvation and that by faith in him, as the funeral sermon said, abundant life is found here and eternal life is found hereafter.

 

               Four billion people heard those words, four billion people must consider those truths.

 

               They have the opportunity to learn and ponder, to explore their hearts and approach God in prayer, and find for themselves if they can have faith in Jesus. If they can believe enough to want to believe, to feel the first flickers of faith, and nurture them into a guiding light for their lives.

 

               It may involve reaching out to a Christian friend, with questions or in search of an explanation. It may involve finding the New Testament online, and beginning reading at the book of Matthew. It may involve reflecting on the warmth and emotion felt during the funeral, as sacred words were said, as the Spirit told us, in its quiet way, that what we were hearing was true.

 

               This shared sacred experience is also an opportunity to share our faith, to heed the Savior’s great commission to take the truth and testimony of his saving mission to all the people of the world. That includes people across the street as much as people across the ocean, the people of our families, workplaces and communities.

 

               Almost everyone knows of the funeral, a large percentage of people will hear or see at least portions of it. It is something most of us went through together, and which we can talk about. Including the way it made us feel, how it touched our heart, how it relates to our faith.

 

               The funeral boldly declared faith in Jesus Christ, and implicitly invited all to come unto him.

 

               Those who know him now have the opportunity to boldly declare their faith, and those who have not yet met him have the opportunity to respond to his invitation.

 

               This morning was a sermon on the biggest mount ever.

 

               A sermon intended to honor a woman, and save a world.


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