We gather this morning at a difficult hour. I have grown accustomed to gathering in times both good and bad in this very room. The Rock Baptist Church is an ancestral and spiritual home for the Hood family. Many of you have gathered with us over the years. I have done much questioning in these pews. Today is no different.
The last few days of my life have been filled with questions. Why would God allow my grandmother to die? Why do we have funerals at all? Why would a loving God keep allowing people to die? These are serious and difficult questions. I loved my grandmother with all of my heart. Serious love requires serious and difficult questions. We must dare ask…Why?
When my cousins Jeremiah and Jeffrey died very young…I dared ask…Why? When my Uncles Donnie Hood and Donnie Stevens died…I dared ask…Why? When my Great Grandmother Ruth Hood died…I dared to ask…Why? Last year, when my Grandfather died…I dared ask…Why? Why? Why? Why?
There are many of us sitting here with many questions. I am the chief questioner on this day. In that casket, my beloved grandmother sits in that casket cold and dead. Why?
There will be some who offer the easy answers of church speak.
Some will say: “You will see her again in heaven.” I don’t care about your again. I don’t care about your heaven. I miss my grandmother right now. What type of God would take her from me? What type of God would take her from us? Why?
Some will say: “She is more alive now than she ever has been.” She is dead. Look at this casket. There is no movement. If God is so good…what are we doing here today? Why would God do this? Why?
I could go on all morning. If I did, I would be left with a million questions and very few answers.
My grandmother had a millions reasons not to believe…but chose to believe anyways. In spite of devastating tragedies and hardships, my grandmother chose to believe.
I have felt my whole life that I can trace my faith in God to my grandmother. There was something about her reckless abandonment to Jesus that moved, shook and shaped me. Many will say that they don’t believe that faith is a hereditary phenomenon. I am not so sure about that.
I found out that my grandmother died just after I finished lunch after church last Sunday in Dallas, Texas. I had just buckled my twin sons into their car seats. My dad called and said that my Aunt Jackie had just found my grandmother dead. My eyes filled up with tears, my face turned red and my body shook. I was devastated. My kids couldn’t figure out what was wrong. My faith was shaken. In desperation, I cried out in prayer to my grandmother. I wanted her to know one last time that I loved her with all that I am. As clear as I am speaking to you now, I heard the voice of my grandmother declare, “I’m home.” Whether you believe in such things or not is of no consequence to me, I do. I can only tell you what I experienced. I find it interesting that I made a declaration to my grandmother and she responded with a destination.
I believe that every question we ask draws us closer to a destination where there will be no more questions. I believe in home.
Jesus tells us in John 14, “Do not let your heart be troubled, believe in God believe in me. God’s house has plenty of space. I would not have invited you if that wasn’t the case. I will go and prepare a place for you. I want you to be where I am.”
1 John 4:8 reminds us that “God is love.”
I believe that it is love that prepares a place for us.
Love calls us to that final destination of home.
There is a spark of the divine in the love that we share with each other that calls us and pulls us to that ultimate destination.
Love is the victor because God is the victor. For God is love.
I am able to leave this pulpit with many questions but my faith intact because the love that my grandmother and I shared was so strong. I know that such love will continue to draw me to the source of all love until I meet my grandmother again in that place called home. In spite of the many difficulties and struggles in my soul, I choose to believe that love does save. Despite the body that lays in front of me, I dare declare at the top of my lungs that LOVE WILL NEVER DIE.