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January 8, 2019
Genesis 23:12-14
Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land and he said to Ephron in their hearing, “Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there.”
New International Version (NIV)
                What happens when we die?  I deal with the spiritual side of that mostly.  Sometimes, though, I sit with families in funeral homes as decisions are made, but not often.  When my mom’s older brother died I walked through the process with her at Llano cemetery where so many of my relatives are buried in Amarillo.  She had been the executor of her parents’ estates when they were buried in the same place.   My brothers and I had to find a place for our mom.  That was harder than I could have known. 

                When Sarah died, Abraham needed to bury her.  One of the challenges of the nomadic life is that Abraham didn’t really own any land.  He went to the locals and asked to buy a piece of property.  The negotiation has at least a tinge of humor:  you can have it for free but it is worth 400 shekels.  “What is that between you and me?”  Abraham bought the land under the Oaks of Mamre near the cave of Machpelah at Hebron.  Generations later Caleb would reclaim all of the land in that area leaving giants in his wake.  But on this day the transaction was financial.

                Someday something will happen to our bodies.  If we live long enough, we bury people we love greatly.  Death is no respecter of persons.  Audrey Assad has turned one of my favorite poems by John Donne into a song.  “Death, be not proud,” she sings.  True, the day will come when death itself will die.  On that day we will join the Apostle Paul in his Corinthian taunt:  “Where death is your sting?  Where death is your victory?”  But standing by the grave of a loved one, we feel considerably less defiant.  The sting of death is more apparent than Donne allows.   Still, our God is the God of all comfort and the Father of all compassion.  His mercies are new.  New every morning.  Let us comfort each other as we walk through this dark valley.  But know this for certain:  Christians do not walk through the valley of the shadow alone.  God is with us.  He knows his way out of the grave.  We will live.

Pray with me:  
God of all comfort, comfort your people we pray.  Our best words ring hollow as we stand in the cemetery.  But we remember that our Savior was once buried also.  You know what it is to lose a Son, Father.  So we trust you, Lord of the resurrection to give life to your servants through the awesome power of your risen Son.  Help us to set up shop today at the entrance to an empty tomb.  Then in the realization of our ultimate victory let us live this day, not just somehow, but triumphantly.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.        
This year our Every Day with Jesus readings will follow The Bible Project Read Scripture Plan.  Copies of this reading plan are available at Tallowood Baptist Church, or download 
the app at  Read through the Bible with us in 2019!

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