“If I die,” my friend said in a whispered voice, “will you do the memorial service?”
“I will,” I said. I felt honored he asked me, someone who had attended and at times taught his adult Sunday School class. Now he lay in a hospital room, barely able to breathe, let alone speak. He had just transferred out of ICU. We both knew life could be short.
“What Scriptures would you like?” I asked. “I Corinthians,” he responded. I knew the passage–I thought. “Chapter 13?” I offered. “No,” he said, “Fifteen.” “Let me read it,” I said.
I quickly scanned the passage I hadn’t prepared. It begins with the good news of Jesus’ death for our sins, his resurrection, and his appearances to the Twelve and to 500 others. I read Paul’s teaching about the resurrection body: “sown perishable, raised imperishable; sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body.” I then read the Christian’s victory over death: “Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Finally, I read him the chapter’s conclusion: Therefore my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”
“Powerful,” he said, “powerful.” My friend died night before last.