When my sister was in college, she and her friends rented a battered, abandoned church to live in in their small West Virginia town. A rebellious and eclectic streak defined her at this age, so my parents just decided to pick their battles.
A mural of Jesus—arms outstretched in all His traditional-church-overrun-by-hippies glory—greeted visitors at the front double doors, and I’ll never forget the phone conversation I overheard when my sister broke the news of a $900 heating bill one winter. The grace shown that year will give my parents a myriad of sparkling jewels in heaven.
The most unconventional amenity that came with their lease was the backyard cemetery. The town’s transients frequented the cemetery, high school students were dared to spend an hour there alone, and legends told of haunted graves. To call it creepy would be an understatement.
The church had been deserted for decades, and the tombstones that marked the memory of church members from past centuries were nearly unrecognizable under overgrown plants. Dirt snuck into engraved names. Moss crept up the sides of once-white stones. From the looks of the tombs, it was obvious that the skeletons were decaying beneath the ground.
Jesus refers to a different type of grave in Matthew 23.