February 26, 2009

Gathering Grace

Genesis 25:5-11

Abraham … was gathered to his people.
Genesis 25:8


Our reading for today speaks of the death of Abraham, whose promised descendants became the people of Israel.

In Genesis, in Numbers, in Deuteronomy—many of the Old Testament heroes of faith are “gathered” to their people. In a sense, believers like Abraham do not die. They are gathered. Children of God do not expire. They are gathered. Followers of Jesus Christ do not perish. They are gathered.

On occasion I have stood at the door or window of a church on Sunday morning and watched as people drive into the parking lot, leave their vehicles, and walk into the building. It’s a wonderful sight. They are gathering. I try to imagine a perch high enough above the earth to see every worshiper leaving home and finding their way to worship, whether it’s in a building or a tent or a forest or a meadow or a cave.

Gathering. I try to imagine God’s perspective. He is watching his children, one by one, leaving their earthly tents, as Paul describes our bodies (2 Corinthians 5:1), and being gathered to Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:1). Not perishing, but parading into God’s presence. Not passing away, but passing into heaven.

Gathering by grace to glory. Sobering? Yes. Humbling? Definitely. But most of all—reassuring.

God of all grace, we give thanks today for the sober and humble reassurance that by your grace and in your time we will be gathered to our and your people. Amen.

About the author — Dale Vander Veen

Dale Vander Veen is a retired Christian Reformed pastor who with his wife, Edith, has ministered in California, Washington, and Michigan. They have three married children and six grandchildren. He currently writes a daily e-mail series of devotions.

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