For some, a grave is a painful reminder. I understand, as it is for me too. Yet this ground in which my son was buried is also a sacred place of memory and anticipation.
It’s been five years since I have stood here in Searcy, Arkansas where my son, Kenneth James Butts, was buried nearly twelve years ago. In some ways, it seems far too long. Yet here I am and I come still asking why he died, wishing I could turn back time and change what happened.
But I can’t! So now I only a grave to stand by and remember.
But this I am convinced of… That this ground has become holy ground. It’s holy ground because God has made it his place of dwelling, if only for a while.
During Holy Week we remember the final journey Jesus made into Jerusalem where he was arrested, crucified, buried and resurrected. I generally focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus. After all, these two events remind me that I am justified as a sinner and living with the hope of eternal life. But between the death and resurrection of Jesus is his burial in the tomb… a grave.
The grave is a cold and lifeless place of silence. Jesus is buried there to take his place among the dead. But God the Father is there too. Jesus is his Son, the second person of this Triune God. Jesus is the one through whom the Father has become flesh and now he is buried in the grave.
So here I am next to my son’s grave. God knows! He knows because he’s been here, because he is here with me… with Kenny. It’s a sacred place of waiting. It’s waiting for the promise of the Father, that his Son, Jesus, would not be abandoned to the grave. That is the rest of the story remembered during Holy Week.
It’s my story and our story. By the grave there is waiting. By the grave God waits with us, just as the Father waited when his Son was laid in the grave. God waits with us as he waited for that early Sunday morning when his Son would rise.
I come to the grave not as a place of permanence but as a place of waiting, a holy ground where God waits too. And waiting in faith and hope for that day when the wait will be over, when I will no longer need to remember the past because the future will become eternally present.
But until then, I’ll be waiting!
* This same article is published in Connecting 29 (April 17, 2014), a biweekly publication of the Columbia Church of Christ.