A few weeks ago, we attended the funeral for my husband’s grandma. Grandma Hulda died just short of her 98th birthday. At the end of the service, the pastor raised her hands in benediction, calling blessings down on us, and commending grandma’s spirit and our spirits up to the Lord.
My husband spoke at the funeral for his dear grandma. He recalled a family reunion about 10 years ago, when grandma hiked with us in the Wisconsin hills. The hills are called “coulees,” from a French Canadian word meaning, “to flow,” because of the valleys with steep walls and flowing streams. Grandma loved spending time in those green pastures; they seeped into her soul and helped make it so sweet. Grandma loved Psalm 23, and we read those words at the funeral, in her honor.
(photo: Grandma’s brother Henry with the Wisconsin coulees in the background)
As a girl, grandma spent a lot of time in those hills, tending to the cows as they fed on the lush green grass. I think that up there, she got a perspective that added to her life-long sense of beauty and contentment. Grandma always decorated her table with wildflowers. Grandma suffered from dementia later in life. One time when we visited, she deliberately poured her cranberry juice into her milk until it turned into a rosy shade of pink, and exclaimed “pretty!” We all ache for missing grandma.
This week, the church calendar calls us to celebrate Christ’s Ascension (May 14). Before he died, Jesus said he had to go away so that the counselor–the Holy Spirit– would come to us. Forty days after the Resurrection, Christ gave his followers final instructions, and was lifted up to heaven.
Christ’s Ascension means more than the Holy Spirit coming down to us. It means that we are “raised with Christ” now, as well as when we pass into eternity. In the future, we’ll join grandma and all the “saints” in Christ—all the ordinary people who trust in him. As for now, we are already lifted into the heavenly realms, another dimension of reality, as we worship. Being lifted with Christ gives us a new perspective on life that changes us, like dwelling in the lush green hills of Wisconsin.
“God…made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:5-6).”
(photo: View of the farm where grandma grew up.)(The above drawing of the Ascension is from my inter-generational book, “Supper with the Savior,” available on Amazon or signed copies via my email: firstname.lastname@example.org)