I just returned from a trip to Louisiana to see some friends. While there, I went into New Orleans to visit the World War 2 museum (well worth a blog post of its own). After leaving the museum, I spent some time walking around downtown, and heard some music playing and noticed people walking down the middle of the street. It was a wedding party parade, celebrating with music, handkerchiefs waving, and the guy on the left dressed in some kind of orange feathery costume (because, after all, it was New Orleans).
Within 10 minutes, I saw another parade — another wedding party, also marching down the street to music and waving handkerchiefs (but alas, no orange-costumed guy).
As I marveled at the spectacle, a lady and I began talking about it. She told me that these mini-parades have a name: Second Lines. Apparently, they developed out of funeral processions, where the first line of people would be mourning — perhaps wiping their tears with hankies. But that first group wasn’t the only ones in the procession, for a second line would come along after them — this one joyful, perhaps even celebratory. So, even in a funeral, there’d be a reminder that sorrow is not the only word.
Second Lines have definitely evolved, but I can’t help but think that their original purpose would have come from a very Christian sensibility. For we as believers mourn, we grieve, we experience real sorrow at the loss of a loved one. But we don’t grieve as ones who have no hope. Our grief does not have the final word — for Death does not have the final word. It is a first-line concern, for sure. But for the believer in Jesus, there is another line — another word — the truth that at death we are with him, and that at his return, we are raised incorruptible.
Bottom line: we who trust in Jesus are Second Line people – never denying the first line, while holding forever fast to the second.