SCRIPTURE: Colossians 1:27
Christ in you, the hope of glory.
STORY as told by Gary Thomas:
As Vice President, George Bush represented the U.S. at the funeral of former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. Bush was deeply moved by a silent protest carried out by Brezhnev's widow. She stood motionless by the coffin until seconds before it was closed. Then, just as the soldiers touched the lid, Brezhnev's wife performed an act of great courage and hope, a gesture that must surely rank as one of the most profound acts of civil disobedience ever committed: She reached down and made the sign of the cross on her husband's chest.
There in the citadel of secular, atheistic power, the wife of the man who had run it all hoped that her husband was wrong. She hoped that there was another life, and that that life was best represented by Jesus who died on the cross, and that the same Jesus might yet have mercy on her husband.
What is it that we hope for? A better life? An easier life? Healthy children and grandchildren? Security and happiness? Peace? Fulfillment? A better tomorrow? Freedom from illness and pain? What is it that we hope for … in the deepest recesses of our spirit?
Isn’t it the same thing that caused Mrs. Brezhnev to make the sign of the cross on the chest of her dead husband? “The hope of glory” for me is more than eternal life for if Christ only means something that is to come after living then living becomes one of the worst practical jokes ever played upon humanity. But, if “the hope of glory” is a better today – a fuller and more complete life here on plant earth that will eventually find its true wings in the eternal … then that is a hope worth embracing and believing in … that is an abundant life … that is a joy-filled life.
Who knows what Mrs. Brezhnev was thinking as she made the sign of the cross upon her dead husband’s chest. Wouldn’t you have liked to have overheard the conversations in their home, behind locked doors, when the lights were turned off? Surely her husband knew of her faith? Surely her faith-filled journey included a copy of the Bible? And just possibly Leonid Brezhnev picked it up on certain occasions and turned to the stories within its pages. One never knows, but one could only imagine. Maybe this simple act of making the sign of the cross was a “death-pack” that husband and wife worked out ahead of time. Who knows?
But it is the sign of the cross and the one who owns that cross as his very own wherein lays any hope that we might and can have in this life and beyond. That I know for sure … and that will be glory for me!
In the sign of the cross and in a relationship with one who hung there that we hope in this life and the next. Thank you for the mercy which delivers your grace. Thank you for giving an abundant life worth living in the here and now. In the name of the only one who can and does change our life’s journey, Jesus Christ himself. Amen.
QUOTE from Max Lucado from “God Came Near,” page 25:
“Jesus left the carpentry shop because of you. He laid his security down with his hammer. He hung tranquility on the peg with his nail apron. He closed the window shutters on the sunshine of his youth and locked the door on the comfort and ease of anonymity. Since he could bear your sins more easily than he could bear the thought of your hopelessness, he chose to leave.”