by Ken Rolheiser
Life’s final chapter and coming home

    An elderly man dying at home in his bed smelled his favorite chocolate chip cookies. He fell out of bed, crawled to the kitchen table where his wife was baking cookies. Barely able to lift his arm he grasped a warm, moist cookie. His wife whacked his hand with a spatula. "Why Did You Do That?" he gasped. 
    "Those are for the funeral."
    I was researching the best names for funeral services recently and found Welcome Home Services, Coming Home Services and Warm Embrace. These are in keeping with the joy and freedom life’s end promises the Christian. 
    “Some day you will read in the papers that [K. P. Rolheiser] is dead. Don’t believe a word of it. A that moment I shall be more alive than I am now. I shall have gone up higher, that is all…
    “I will have a body that death cannot touch; that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto His glorious body.” (from D. L. Moody, 19th century Evangelist who addressed 100 million Americans in his time).
    The expectations for end of life are different for those who stray from the straight and narrow. I can picture them searching names of retirement homes that might include Geezer Glen, Coronary Chateau, Vertigo Village and Get Me Outta Here Gardens. 
    It is really up to us how we approach the final chapter of our lives. I have spoken to seniors living with cancer and pains and struggling to keep going. They showed me the good news that we can trust in God’s love and in his goodness beyond the trials of this short life.
    God will not forget all our life-time good deeds when we work and raise a family and serve our communities. Many sitting in that retirement chair with wheels may forget all the wonderful things they have done in their lives. God does not forget.  
    Jane Marczewski, Nightbirde from America’s Got Talent, faced death with
 Cancer in her lungs, spine and liver, but still sang of her joy - “It’s ok, it’s ok” - too many times to count. 
    “You can like, go down to those dark roads and stay there because it's so tragic or you can go down those dark roads and come back. … You can’t wait until life isn’t hard anymore before you decide to be happy. 
    “Tears have become the only prayer I know. Prayers roll over my nostrils and drip down my forearms.” Tears are her prayers, “night and day, sunrise, and sunset,” says Marczewski. “It’s ok.”
    And why is it ok? Because God is near, Marczewski says. God doesn’t spare us thirst, but gives us water. He gives us light for the darkness of pain and death. When we are most alone, he is near. It is all good news for the Christian.
    We may stray from the straight and narrow at times during our lives, but as Billy Graham said, “My friends, you can come back. God is waiting for you. … It’s time to come home.” Picture the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. At his lowest point, when he was lonely, empty and miserable, he returned to his father who welcomed him with open arms. 
    Welcome Home, Coming Home and Warm Embrace are our destiny. God is waiting for our return with open arms.

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