Rev. Dianne Picton
Have you seen all the black bordered orange shapes floating silhouetted against the blue sky? Last evening as I sat outside, I could see as many as 8 or 12 at one time. Up in the sky, catching the rays of the sun, they drifted; fluttering, always moving south. Monarch butterflies with their beautifully marked designs are beginning their long journey.
After a lifetime of industrious labor, they spin a pale green covering over themselves. And then they wait, and wait, and wait. Encased in the cocoon they hang limp. Life seems to have ended. Then one day usually in late summer or early fall the cocoon begins to change. It turns translucent and slowly, oh so slowly, begins to split open. A dark quivering mass emerges. Ever so gradually it expands, spreading its wings to the sunshine. Finally, it silently it lifts up into the air and soars.
For Christians, the butterfly has long been a symbol of resurrection. From apparent lifelessness the butterfly bursts forth alive. In some ways our life can be compared to the butterfly. We begin small and grow and change. But we are different as well.
Christians are born and then reborn, in the water of baptism. They are marked with the cross of Jesus Christ. In ensuing years we are taught by faithful teachers and parents. We come to know more fully the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Childhood passes and soon life centers on work and family. But some of life's puzzles have no easy answers or quick solutions.
Finally like the immobile caterpillar wrapped in its cocoon, disease wrapped itself around. For you her family waiting began. It was a time of sadness, frustration, and uncertainty as she was gradually pulled away. It became harder and harder to share news, thoughts and love. One last time she answered the call of her Savior, "come unto me". There was no miracle; no butterfly emerged with beautiful wings. Instead death came and you knew the pain of separation.
God understands that feeling of loss and separation. When Jesus was preparing the disciples for his departure, he told them he was going to prepare a place for them. Then he would return take them where so they would be together forever. That promise of Jesus reminds us God understands the puzzle and has prepared the eternal answer.
Death is not the end; Death is swallowed up in victory. When God intervenes the puzzle becomes clear. Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. His resurrection in God's answer to the puzzle of death. God's answer is everlasting life. "For as Christ was raised from the dead, we too will live".
It is God's miracle, God brings life out of death. Only then does the butterfly become a symbol of resurrection. This morning the tree in my backyard looked like it was blooming with golden flowers. Clusters of monarch butterflies were drying their wings in the morning sun. It seemed like God's sign of resurrection hope on this day.
With God's power life comes from death; beauty from the perishable cocoon. We can go forward in the sure and certain hope that just as God raised Jesus from the tomb of Death, God will give new life to our love one and to us. Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." AMEN
Every year in early September, Monarch butterflies migrate
through our area on the way to their winter home in Mexico. This
can be a spectacular sight. The above is from part of a funeral
sermon Dianne wrote the early part of September 1996.