Reformation Lutheran Church A Congregation of the ELCA

Holy Saturday, April 15

Changed in a Moment

Most people are uneasy about death, and some people are absolutely afraid of death. But, as the old saying goes, the only things that are certain are death and taxes. As Christians, we believe that by God’s grace and through our faith in his son Jesus, we will have eternal life when our earthly life is over. This indeed takes a great deal of faith. How it will all transpire is certainly mysterious.

More than 20 years ago, my mother was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. There were surgeries and chemo treatments, but eventually we were told her condition was terminal. My mother’s condition deteriorated, and she became extremely weak and frail. Her esophagus was blocked by tumor, and she could no longer eat or drink. Hospice was called.

I remember my first meeting with the hospice nurse as she spoke of what would happen as my mother got close to death. The first thing she told me was, “If I hadn’t believed in God before becoming a hospice nurse, the things I have seen in my years as a hospice nurse would have made me a believer.” She went on to describe the progression of dying and some of the things to expect; from the “death rattle,” a terrible wheezing sound, to looking at and talking to people who were not in the room.

We made calls to family and friends so that they could come see her one last time. Her brother and sister-in-law from Kansas City came to visit. At this point, my mother was bedridden and probably sleeping at least 23 hours a day. Reformation had just called a new pastor who had not yet arrived. Our interim pastor, Don Conrad, came to the house. We were all gathered at my mother’s bedside and he offered communion to us all. My mother sat right up in bed, communed with us and commented that she had no issues swallowing the bread and wine. We were all, including the pastor, quite surprised.

As death came closer, she would sometimes sit up in bed, look to the ceiling and talk to someone. Mom was never afraid and became more serene and peaceful as time passed. While it was a terribly sad experience for me to lose my mom, I had an amazingly peaceful sense.

Earthly death and heavenly life are some of the greatest of God’s mysteries. In spite of the fact that I don’t understand what it looks like when my life on earth ends, I have faith that what lies ahead is indeed heavenly

“Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.” 1 Corinthians 15:51

Susayn Brandes

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