The Day is Done, But...
"Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep." Psalm 121:4
There is something about military honors at a funeral that is chilling to me. As many times as I've experienced it as a pastor at a graveside I still jump a little when the guns fire the salute. Then hearing a lone bugler in the distance play taps, I find it very respectful, yet sobering. I felt that again standing next to Richard Lugar's casket the other morning. There is such a finality about the fading sound of that last note of taps. But it's not meant to be.
Taps is a military trumpet call signaling the end of day as the flag is lowered. It actually has words. The first stanza is: Day is done, Gone the sun, from the lake, from the hills, from the sky; All is well, safely rest, God is nigh. Taps is meant to fill us with assurance not grief. God is nigh. As the psalmist said, God never slumbers or sleeps. While we rest God is always at work. God is nigh.
Mark Lubbers, former campaign manager for Richard Lugar, was asked to coordinate and plan the funeral for Senator Lugar. He wanted the end of the service to capture something of the mood at Winston Churchill's funeral. That service was conducted in the magnificent St. Paul's cathedral in London. The cathedral has two dominant towers in the front. Churchill himself, before his death, ordered for a trumpeter to stand in one tower and play taps. As soon as the last note faded from hearing, a trumpeter in the opposite tower played Reveille.
(As a little aside, I conducted the funeral a couple years ago of a member who had been a trumpeter, and I shared this story. His wife went on the recent Wesley tour. Her most anticipated moment was being able to stand below St. Paul's and see the church for the first time and remember her husband. We shared a special hug that day)
I share this with you today, because it is a good reminder that no matter how final the events of life feel, no matter how sad or upsetting, God is nigh. God is watching over us. God is at work doing more than we can see. Taps may be the final note that the day is done, but it points to a lasting truth that Reveille will sound.
See you Sunday,