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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.






17 August 2005

Recognizing Departed Family in Heaven


Q: Last week, a friend’s grandmother died and, needless to say, she was very upset. She knew her grandma was a Christian (as is my friend), but she wondered if she would be able to recognize her grandma when they were in heaven. We tried to find the answer in the Bible, but didn’t. Could you direct us to the right place, please?

A: I feel for your friend. All of my grandparents have now been called home and my father was called home in May. I wonder myself if I will know them after the Resurrection. There is no clear word of Scripture and I hate to set up false hope — especially since we have the true and eternal hope of life forever.

While I imagine that our focus will be less on each other and more on our God, we know that He also created us to live in community with each other and he may continue our memories of that community that began on earth. There is the matter that we don’t know what our resurrection bodies will be like, nor do we know what memories or associations God will allow to continue. Yet we do know that Moses and Elijah were recognized by the three apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration (see Matt 17:1-13); so also, God may grant us the ability to know the saints with whom we now live when we enter eternal life with them.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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