Saturday, November 02, 2013

The death of death

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Isaiah 25:1-12

TO CHEW ON: “He will swallow up death forever. And the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces. The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 25:8

Death is a subject that brings up a variety of responses in people.

  • As much as possible we avoid thinking or talking about it:
“Death is a distant rumor to the young.” ~ Andy Rooney

“We say that the hour of death cannot be forecast, but when we say this we imagine that hour as placed in an obscure and distant future. It never occurs to us that it has any connection with the day already begun or that death could arrive this same afternoon, this afternoon which is so certain and which has every hour filled in advance.” ~Marcel Proust
  • We try to take the sting out of it by making it poetic:
“Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life.” ~Albert Einstein
  • We call it by other names:
“After all, to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure.” ~J.K. Rowling
“Death is a delightful hiding place for weary men.” ~Herodotus
  • We make fun of it:
“Death is caused by swallowing small amounts of saliva over a long period of time.” ~Attributed to George Carlin
  • But its reality sinks in when someone we love dies:
“We understand death for the first time when he puts his hand upon one whom we love.” ~Madame de Stael
  • Its inevitability is one of life’s truisms…
“No one can confidently say that he will still be living tomorrow.” ~Euripides
“Death is the surest calculation that can be made.” ~Ludwig Büchner, Force and Matter
“You can be a king or a street sweeper,
but everybody dances with the Grim Reaper.” ~Robert Alton Harris

OR IS IT SO INEVITABLE?

Isaiah, in our reading today, predicts a time when death will no longer exist. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is beginning of that coming true for all of us.

H. C. Thiessen in his discussion of the importance of Christ’s resurrection says, “It is important as a polemic for miracles….in attempting to prove the miracles of the Bible, we should not begin with Balaam’s ass or Jonah and the big fish but with Christ’s resurrection.” H. C. Thiessen, Lectures in Systematic Theology p. 332.

This is what we celebrate at Easter – Jesus alive again after He was dead, a miracle! When everything else – all the laws of nature and our experience say that death is inevitable for everyone who lives, Jesus broke those laws when He came to life again.

The results of the resurrection are many*:
1. It proves that Christ is really God - Romans 1:3-4.
2. Through Jesus' death we are saved; through His risen life we are reconciled to God - Romans 5:9-10.
3. God demonstrated his power through the resurrection and made Christ the head of the church - Romans 8:34
4.The resurrected Jesus prays and intercedes for us - 1 Timothy 2:5; Romans 8:34.
4. Because He rose and ascended into heaven we have the Holy Spirit - Acts 2:33
5. Because He rose, we have power for life and service - Ephesians 1:18-20.
6. And His resurrection is a guarantee that we will live again as well. That's why we can say goodbye to our loved ones who know the Lord with hope. That's why we can die (because we still do die) without fear - 1 Corinthians 15:20-23.

No wonder we will gladly relinquish all our earthly sadnesses when He wipes the tears from our eyes.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, Thank You for the hope that Your resurrection gives me. Please give me boldness to share it with a skeptical world. Amen.

MORE: Feast of All Faithful Departed

Today the church celebrates the Feast of All Faithful Departed. The liturgy for the day begins with this Collect:
"O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers: Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of your Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."


*These points also taken from my trusty old Systematic Theology book – which has it way more together than I do!

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