Practices like these are not simply a salve for individual grief. Rather, they help us corporately align ourselves with God's battle against death, Satan, and sin. They reach into the past, embrace the memory of the dead, and rush forward in hope for a day when we are united with the historic community of faith in renewed bodies at the final resurrection. As often as we proclaim the Lord's death and sing the word "Maranatha" in church, we join with heaven's protest against death's grip on all creation and cultivate a longing for God's victory to be complete. O Death, we keep our wounds of grief from healing knowing that your defeat is sure! The scars on the body of the resurrected Jesus assure us that pain will not be the only tie that binds us to the Christian departed.
Cory B. Willson is a Ph.D. candidate at Fuller Theological Seminary and co-founding editor of Evangelical Interfaith Dialogue journal. He and his wife, Monica, serve at Grace Brethren Church of Long Beach.