6 What then are we to say? Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? 2 By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? 3 Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Whenever I hear today’s passage from Romans, I am taken to the beginning of a funeral service. As the white pall is placed on the casket or urn, this passage, or a variation, is read. It is a reminder to me that the end of our earthly lives is just the beginning of our new lives. More and more, funerals are transitioning into a celebration of life in two forms. First, it is a celebration of a person’s earthly life. Stories are shared, life’s accomplishments are remembered, and it is a time to mourn that they are no longer with us in body. However, the funeral service acts as a celebration of the beginning of a new life for the recently deceased. The new life that we celebrate in a funeral is the new life that has been promised to us by Christ Jesus. Jesus tells us that he has gone to prepare a place for us, and will take us to that place, to live with our Creator and Savior. While our earthly lives have ended, something better is just starting.
Paul reminds us that, in our baptism, we are made clean by water and the Holy Spirit. Through the waters of baptism, God comes down to us, calls us his children, and reminds us that we are forgiven. Our old lives are drowned in the waters of baptism and we are reborn children of God. During a funeral, I believe that we are celebrating the fulfilment of the promises God makes with us during our baptism. These promises cannot be fully observed until our earthly lives are over and we are united with God, Jesus, and all the saints who have gone on before us in that place Jesus tells us has been prepared for us.
While we mourn the loss of loved ones when they are no longer with us, we are reminded through the words of Paul that when our earthly lives are over, we will walk in newness of life. “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.”
Thank you, God, for loving me and claiming me as one of your children. Help me remember that through the waters of baptism you have promised eternal life and when my earthly life is over I will be united with you and the great company of the saints. In Jesus’ name, Amen.