Special Installment: Death of a Friend
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:52
Object: Sunflower seeds and picture of a Sunflower
Good morning friends. Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen a sunflower (show the picture of a sunflower)? Sunflowers are beautiful flowers. They’re very tall with bright yellow flowers. But like all flowers, eventually sunflowers die. By this time of year (or, by autumn) sunflowers have dried up and died. I’m always sad when sunflowers die because they are so beautiful and bright and make me happy.
Death is always sad. Especially when a friend dies. It’s very sad when we know we won’t see them anymore. When we won’t be able to talk or hug or laugh with them anymore. It’s okay to be sad when someone we love dies.
But you know, the story doesn’t end there. Take a look at this sunflower again. Do you see the dark center? About the time a sunflower starts to die, the center begins to change into seeds (show the children sunflower seeds). Birds, squirrels, and even people love to eat these seeds. And these seeds can be planted to grow into another beautiful sunflower.
When someone dies who believes in Jesus Christ and knows God loves them, the story doesn’t end when they leave this earth. A change waits for us. When one of Jesus’ friends dies, we change by leaving behind this body and going to heaven to live forever with God. Our Scripture passage tells us this happens in a twinkling of an eye (note, RSV translation).
Even though we can’t see our friend anymore on this earth, we know they have gone to heaven with Jesus. And one day, we will see them again. Just like a sunflower keeps living because of the seeds inside, when Jesus’ friends die, they go on to live with God in heaven.
Let us pray: Merciful God. We are sad that our friend died. We wish he/she was here. But we know he/she is with you in heaven. Help us find comfort in knowing this is not the end but a new beginning. Amen.
Dedicated to the memory of Jason Molitor who died suddenly on October 21. He was a loving father, faithful disciple, devoted pastor, and a friend. He will be greatly missed until we see him again.