Every Lunar New Year, it is the tradition of many of us to gather in the homes of families and friends to celebrate the festive season. We look forward to the opportunity to have reunion meals together, to catch up with our extended family, to enjoy each other’s company.
For some, however, the Lunar New Year can be a time of sadness and grief. Empty chairs remind us of loved ones who have passed away; we mourn the absence of beloved family members who once sat around the table with us, but have now departed this mortal life.
As Christians, we can look forward to a Great Reunion – a reunion that far surpasses anything that we will ever experience in this life.
The apostle Paul reminded the church at Thessalonica that we do not need to feel hopeless about our loved ones who have died in the Lord. The certainty of Jesus’ resurrection also means that these beloved Christians who have died before us are now sleeping, but will one day come back to life as well. We do not need to worry that we will never be reunited with those who have died in the Lord. “But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13-15)
When will this Great Reunion take place? Paul assured the Christians in Thessalonica that it would take place when Jesus returns. The dead in Christ would rise, and we who are alive will be reunited with them in the clouds, to be with the Lord forever.
“For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
Though we may feel grief and sadness over the empty chairs at the table this festive season, as Christians, we will always have the comforting assurance that we will someday be reunited with the faithful loved ones who have gone on before.
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:18)
God bless each and everyone of you during this festive season. Enjoy your reunion meals, and look forward in anticipation to that Great Reunion as well.