Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Broken Grave

My prayer closet is a room with a view of a graveyard. Every day I kneel and face a cemetery. It is not intentional; the spare bedroom I use for private prayer just happens to have a window that faces in that direction.

Now that the warm weather has arrived, we walk through this cemetery almost daily. We have a two-mile exercise circuit that winds through the gravel lanes of the Beaver Falls cemetery. In this manner I am confronted regularly with my mortality - especially when I pass the grave of another guy with my surname who was born in the same year I was.

Earlier this spring I was taking a solitary contemplative walk through these hallowed grounds. I sat on the top of the hill for a while and enjoyed the view of the rolling hills. When I resumed my walk, I strayed from my normal route. Like Moses on Mount Sinai, I turned aside to see an unusual sight.

In front of an old grave was a stone urn that had cracked open. This was not an act of vandalism; it was an act of nature. A tree had grown in the urn and burst it apart, leaving the sides of the pot turned outward like a tulip's pedals opening to the sun or like the shattered husk of a giant seed. 

I imagined how this could have happened. It was likely a breeze or a bird that carried the seed to that urn. The seedling took hold in the soil, sent its roots through cracks in the urn, and eventually into the earth beneath.

No one uprooted the young sapling before it began to outgrow the pot. No cemetery attendant noticed the slow growth. The tree grew until it burst its container and took root in the ground. For years it grew, and now it is a twenty-foot tree. The city workers would need a saw to remove it now and a backhoe to pull out the roots.

The burial of Jesus was a seed planted. He burst the grave asunder. The seed of the kingdom that sprouted in a Jerusalem graveyard the first Easter has grown to envelop the whole earth. There is hardly a cemetery in the world where the gospel has not been planted. Seeds are sown in human souls and graves are burst asunder.

My tomb is broken like that earthen pot. Because he lives, I will live. No tomb can hold me any more than it could hold Christ. As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive. The cross of Christ is rooted in my soul. My grave is his tomb. His resurrection is mine. I will rise again, immortal and eternal. It has already happened. All because He lives.

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