Now Samuel died, and all Israel assembled and mourned for him; and they buried him at his home in Ramah. 1 Samuel 25:1 (NIV)
Over the past few years I have, on occasion, received an early morning phone call from my dad. A call in the early morning is always a bid disconcerting, but I’ve learned that it probably means that someone we know has died. My dad’s routine is to check the obituaries in the paper each morning to, as he puts it, “see if it’s going to be a good day.” Presumably, each day he doesn’t find his own name on the page is a good day.
Just a couple of weeks ago Wendy and I attended the funeral of a friend who died unexpectedly. This week I received a phone call asking me if I would officiate the funeral of a gentleman who was in my congregation when I was a pastor many years ago. I agreed to do so and was honored to be asked.
Perhaps because of these recent events my mind has been thinking about death and funerals this week. That’s why I found it interesting to open the chapter this morning and find that it begins with a one line obituary for Samuel. Samuel was such a key figure in the historic events we’ve read in the previous three weeks. He was the miracle baby, the boy who was called by God at a young age, a key figure in the downfall of the house of Eli, the final Judge of Israel, a priest, a prophet, and the transitional character between the period of the Judges and the monarchy. Samuel lived a long and eventful life. And, in the end, his death is given a one sentence obituary amidst the stories of David and Saul.
This morning I’m reminded that the same fate awaits us all in this earthly life. It’s a sobering but critical truth, and one that should not be wholly ignored. At the end, our entire life journey will be reduced to a sentence or two. What will it have to say? How will we be remembered?
Please forgive me if I’m starting the day off with a downer. Look at it this way: The phone didn’t ring this morning, so my dad must not have found your obituary in the paper. That means it’s going to be a good day.