Items on a Gravestone
Originally scheduled for May 31
It is one of the more curious sites I have ever
seen. While attending a funeral I noticed two items sitting on the
gravestone a few yards away. My eyes not believing what they saw, I
went over to make sure that I was seeing things correctly. Two items
rested upon the gravestone. The first item was a little plaster
angel with a cute smile on his face. The second, almost
unbelievably, was a miniature high heel shoe. The shoe was about 5
inches long with the heel of about 3 inches. It was nicely made, but
obviously too small for anyone but the smallest child to wear. I
found myself puzzled; who would place those two items on the
gravestone which might have been for grandpa and grandma? I could
find no logical explanation; there was no one around to ask. So I
must leave the mystery with you.
Why do we put items on the gravestone like
that? What makes us put — more commonly — things like a bouquet of
flowers next to the gravestone? I submit there are at least three
It may simply be a desire to honor
the people who are buried in the grave. It’s usually done by some
family member, so it is very personal.
Sometimes it appears that we are
somehow trying to express our thoughts to those who are deceased. It
is a comfort to think that they can understand this, even if they
cannot communicate with us.
Sometimes it is simply because we
want to remember them, and using tangible items helps us do that.
These things may indeed be the natural way a
human being handles a gravestone. Jesus, in establishing the Lord’s
Supper, took advantage of this.
We are to do this “in remembrance of
him.” Communion is an act of memory.
In so doing, we honor his sacrifice
at the Cross, which was our atonement. The grace of God was poured
out on Calvary, and that is worth all the honor we can give it.
Notice that in doing this he took
advantage of tangible elements. He knows it’s easier to remember
someone if you have something physical to remind you. Thus we have
the cup and the bread.
Christ taught us that God is not the God of the
dead, but the living. We are indeed surrounded with a “great cloud
of witnesses” — those who have died in Christ. Christ’s resurrection
is the first fruits in God’s new order of things. It is the evidence
that establishes the fact that he will do as he has promised: the
dead in Christ shall rise at the return of our Lord.
Communion is, in that way, the memorial of
hope. As Paul put it,
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.
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.
Thessalonians 4:13-17 KJV)
If we acknowledge his sacrifice on the cross,
we acknowledge his resurrection. If we acknowledge his resurrection,
we acknowledge the hope that Paul describes to us here — that all
the dead in Christ shall rise. Remember these things as you
commemorate his sacrifice.