Well it’s 1:20 am and I can’t sleep. It could be that I was in a car wreck today (nothing serious). Perhaps it is the fact that I had to relive the most difficult ministry moments of the last year in a 2 hour meeting today. Or maybe it was the 12:45 phone call. I’m not sure.
As I lay there in bed my mind drifts to the health of two of our church members. Neither of these men are doing well and I fear it is only a matter of time (short time) before they too die. We had two deaths last week in our church and in the last year we have had 9 or 10. At this point I would really like to do a wedding instead of a funeral.
I am learning a little bit about death though. Although our story, God’s story, does not view death as the end we are still afraid of death. I think we are afraid of death in an unhealthy way. Our culture, one that prizes seemingly eternal youth, does not allow us to prepare for death. We treat it as a disease that we don’t already have. We don’t know what to say in the face of death and so we often say ridiculous things.
I am also learning that we don’t really have a healthy understanding of death. Too often I hear comments that suggest that through death a loved one will find peace and comfort. As I understand the New Testament death is still the enemy, albeit a conquered one. Release from suffering does not come death buth through Jesus Christ who died to undo death. I think the church in America needs to rethink its theology concerning death, heaven and resurrection. We’re pretty inconsistent.
I think all of this has some implications for how we respond to death in our celebration of life and resurrection services (i.e. funerals and memorial services). I don’t know what those implications are but I know there have to be some.