Fullest Story About Eternal Life: A Celebration of the Life of Kenneth Reese Cole, Jr., The By The Rev. A. Wayne Schwab

[August 20, 2001.]

John recalls Jesus saying, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.” We can hear those words and the words that follow them as exclusive. If you do not know Jesus, you do not get in. Instead, hear Jesus’ words as inclusive. He will be in dialogue with everyone ‑ if not in this life, then, in the next. We will be in dialogue with many religious leaders. We will surely be in dialogue with him.

John also recalls Jesus saying, “I prepare a place for YOU … so that where I am you may be also.” Hang on to these words. We need the fullest, most complete story of what lies beyond this life.

Some teachers leave us with only the memory of those we have lost.

Some teachers talk of endless rebirths ‑ reincarnations ‑ until we finally earn eternal nothingness.

There must be more! There is! The fullest teaching is Jesus’ teaching. Jesus comes among us with a new body, a heavenly body. It is Jesus. No one else. That is why he shows Thomas the nail prints. It really is Jesus. There is only one of him and he has new life, eternal life with God.

There is only one of us. We have not lived before as someone else. We will not be reborn as someone else. Each one of us is God’s unique creation. And in the next life, we are just as much our unique selves. That’s why we can look forward to being together again with our loved ones. And our life together with God will be joyful. “All tears will be wiped away from our eyes.” Sickness will be overcome. Ken has a new, strong heart. The problems of each of us will be overcome. We will talk and visit and enjoy Ken and each other still more.

Losing the people we love hurts. We think long and hard about ourselves ‑ where we are going and how we will get there. Times of loss are times for a fresh start.

See worship that way ‑ a fresh start for every week. We can get confused and lose our way in six short days. At Jesus’ table, we recall what we are here for ‑ to love and to be just. Love those we see face‑to‑face. Be just with those we cannot see but whose lives we affect and influence. Justice is the public face of love. Love and be just! That’s the reminder we cannot hear too often.

And, here at Jesus’ table is the power to live that way. Here’s the help to love and to be just. “Take. Eat. I give my strength to you. Receive my strength to live out the next week. Drink, all of you, of this cup. It is my power given to you. So, live the coming week in hope and joy ‑ in the peace that passes understanding.”

Among the many things that touch me about Ken is that I did not learn about the White House days until last Thursday ‑‑the day after he passed away as I talked with Marilyn. That is the best kind of Christian service ‑ to work without having to get credit for it.

I am reminded of Byron Rushing, an African‑American Christian in the Massachusetts legislature. People ask Byron, “How can you work in a system that is as self‑serving, corrupt, and ruthless as politics.” Byron answers, “I am in the legislature because Jesus is in the legislature. I am in the legislature because I am called to follow Jesus.”

I can hear Ken saying, “I was in the White House because Jesus was in the White House. I was in the White House because 1 was called to follow Jesus.”

Blessed are the merciful … pure … peacemakers.

[The Rev. A. Wayne Schwab; Coordinator of Member Mission Network, Inc., President of Member Mission Press, Chair of the Spiritual Formation Committee for the United Church of Hinesburg, VT, Author, Speaker, and Workshop  Leader.]