I've just attended the funeral of my nest door neighbour. He was a lovely man and a good neighbour. As far as I could tell he never accepted Christ.
Two things struck me as strange at the funeral. The first was singing a hymn about the accepting grace of God, as the presiding vicar assured everyone of the departed's eternal welcome with Christ in heaven. I am sure that the vast majority of people present knew almost nothing about what they were singing about, but it seemed to bring them an odd sort of comfort.
The reason that God does everything he does, is the display of the greatness of the glory of his grace. His grace is, literally, the greatest thing in all creation. I found it intriguing that in an environment that is almost completely ignorant of this that, nevertheless, there was some superstitious comfort being felt. Might it be that even at our most godless there is something deep inside that makes people resonate and long for grace, even if they can't articulate it or haven't heard the gospel? Maybe grace is built and threaded that deeply into the fabric of reality.
The second thing that struck me was that outside the chapel in the garden of remembrance were a set of placards bearing names for funerals later in the day. The bodies hadn't arrived yet. It was almsot as if those cards were waiting for people to depart. I couldn't help but think "one day my name is going to be on one of those. One of those is waiting for me, just like one is waiting for all these named people who have died this week."
The odd thing was that everyone in the garden looked at them as a indication of who had ceased to be. I saw, rather, a list of those who are alive, for judgement and either resurrection with Christ, or eternal condemnation. I left profoundly grateful that when I die I am not going to cease to be and I am not going to face that condemnation.
The extent of the greatness of the glory of God's grace is scarcely more powerfully visible, for those who have eyes to see, than in a garden of remembrance. Please God may I have the chance to tell as many people as I can to make sure of the resurrection from the dead before they - and I - end up in that box.