I participated in the funeral for a man who was not a member of my congregation. I was not the officiate of the funeral but rather only a local pastor who had reached out to this man during a very difficult period of his life, offering friendship, spiritual support, and God’s love. I was asked to share a few words at the service.

I remembered this man as being funny, flamboyant, glamorous, and lovable. His faith was real and deep even though he was judged by family and others who pushed him out, making sure he knew he was not worthy of their recognition. I shared that God’s love and grace was real for all of us, a free gift. My closing comments were the powerful words of the English poet, Anglican clergymen, and converted slave trader John Newton, Amazing Grace published in 1779.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
was blind but now I see.

As I sat down and the officiating preacher stood to make his remarks I soon learned that he had a different opinion. He then began a shame-filled, judgmental oratory of despair for this deceased “sinner”; otherwise known to the people gathered that day as friend, son, brother, neighbor, co-worker, Christ-follower.  According to this preacher grace and love did not apply to this person. The preacher ended his homily by calling me out with a direct contradictory commentary about what I had to say about God’s love. His
comment was, “God will love you all the way to hell.”

At times after officiating at a funeral service someone will come to me and ask for words of assurance that their loved one is now in God’s presence. My response is usually something like this, we can trust in the amazing grace of God who knows us better than we know ourselves, God, whose love is wider and deeper, broader and higher, than we can imagine. This is God’s work.

The hope of Easter is grace, amazing grace – undeserved grace that seeks us out even when the rest of the world addresses us as sinner. When it comes to despair and death, God’s love always prevails.  Jesus’ resurrection proclaims that evil, hate, pain, and death itself will not have the final word in our lives.

Celebrating resurrection and life, Happy Easter!



Keith Haithcock, Photo by Jennifer Summer www.jennifersummer.com

From the Corner
is written by the
Rev. Keith M. Haithcock,
Pastor & Teacher of
St. John United Church of Christ
0n the corner of
Fairfield and Ward Aves.,
Bellevue, KY