It is that time of year when people are gathering: for graduations, for weddings, for vacations. Even with the soaring gas prices (let's not even go THERE!) and rising airfares, I still hear people talking about trips that they have planned - or that they anticipate taking over the next few days and weeks. I, for one, have several trips planned in the near future that I am looking forward to, but there is one trip currently "on hold" because I cannot get a good airfare to take it. But I digress.
This weekend, my family is gathering to celebrate two momentous occasions: a high school graduation and a wedding. Congratulations to my cousins, Amber and Dominique (and soon to be cousin, Paul)! Each of these celebrations marks the end of one era, and the beginning of another in their lives. I have never been married (and that is another blog entry in and of itself!), but I remember the anticipation, the joy, the overwhelming feeling of accomplishment as I marched down my high school graduation aisle over 26 years ago. I remember thinking, "I'm grown now, nobody can tell me nothing!" Little did I know, life had many more experiences to teach me - and the longer I live, the more lessons I am learning. Hopefully, I am growing as I learn, but that is up for debate. These are joyful occasions and I look forward to seeing family members who live far away who have traveled here to take part in these two events.
However, not too far away from me in the town of Huntsville, Alabama, another gathering of a more somber nature is occuring. A young 19 year old male friend of a friend was gunned down last night, and his family is gathering to mourn his passing. (The decision was made to pull the plug earlier this morning). While all the details of what happened and how this occured are still sketchy and unclear, the reality is this: there is a mother who has lost her baby, grandparents who have lost their grandson, and friends who have lost a companion who was "like a brother" to them. Even though I did not know this young man personally, my heart goes out to his family at this time. And I pray that, in his final moments of life, he was able to reach out to His Saviour who I know was reaching out to him.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 offers this assurance: "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. ...the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first. After that, we who are still alive...will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore, encourage each other with these words."
There is a gathering coming when we will be joined with all of those who have preceded us in death who lived according to God's word, and a time is coming when there will be no more goodbyes and no more separation. I eagerly await that day, don't you?
Have a happy Sabbath and a blessed weekend. Be blessed and be a blessing.