“The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” (1 Cor. 15:47-49)
A voice says, "Call out." Then he answered, "What shall I call out?" All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field. 7 The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. 8 The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever. (Isa 40:6-8)
Today is Ash Wednesday. On this day we receive a gift, a reminder, one that we only hear in the church. That we are all going to die. In a world that continually advertise living longer, products that take “years off your life”, and contain the “secret of the fountain of youth” and immortality, the church is the only place left that reminds us we are going to die. We are not immortal, we do not control our own destiny. Has death been defeated by the Jesus’s works on the cross? Absolutely. Will death be completely destroyed and trampled away in the new age to come? Absolutely. Has death been de-clawed, put on a leash and domesticated in the world today? Absolutely not.
Ash Wednesday reminds us of this. It reminds us we are going to die to remind us how truly priceless is the gift of life. It reminds us we are going to die, so today at this very moment, we can truly live.
“God hath given to man a short time here upon Earth, and yet upon this short time Eternity depends…” Jeremy Taylor
Ash Wednesday reminds us we are going to die so we can prepare and order our life for our time of death.
“Have we not had all our life-time to prepare to die; so many years to make ready for one hour; and are we so unready and unwilling yet? What have we done? Why have we lived?” Richard Baxter
What is “IT” that individuals fear about death?
° Torture in hell / Damnation
° Failure to accomplish what should be done
° Coming alive in the grave
° Loss of relationship(s) (relational isolation)
° Being alone
° Loss of significance
° Loss of control
° Loss of experience (sense isolation)
° Discovering s/he was “wrong” about life
° On-going pain
Right now do an exercise that may seem strange. Lose your eyes right now and create a picture in your mind of your physical death or being physically dead. Take a few minutes to do it. What did you see? How did it make you feel?
Today death and dying are isolated and removed from society, homes, families, and unfortunately the church. The dying are isolated in hospital rooms, and nursing homes. They are cared for by dying “professionals” and Hospice workers. The holy experience of death is removed from family homes to funeral homes. The amazing gifts, wisdom, mentoring, and teaching from one who has walked a life alongside Christ are lost and never heard.
The dying are not social outliers but are an integral part of the community of faith. “Why should not a living Christian be exactly of the same spirit with a dying Christian?”
The dying have something valuable to teach the community of faith.
“The dying serve as resources for the entire faith community”
Death highlights the significance of every person’s life.
“The dying remind us of the value of life”
Death does not need to be frightening experience but can be a time of gratitude and joy for believer.
“Freedom from fear of condemnation.”
Spending time with the dying helps to prepare us for our own death.
“A pattern to follow”
Take some time now and throughout your day and reflect on these passages of Scripture that look at death.
v All the resurrection narratives
v Romans 8:38-39
v Romans 14:8-9
v 2 Corinthians 5:6-8
v 1 Corinthians 15 (esp. 15:19)
v Philippians 1:20-24
v Philippians 3:20-21
v 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18
v 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11
v 1 Peter 1:3-5
v 1 John 3:1-3
v Revelation 21:3-5
Spend time today reflecting on something you rarely do, "you are going to die." How does that make you feel? How does that influence your priorities? How does that influence your stewardship of your finances and resources? How does that effect the way you allocate your time, life your life, express your love?
Please share your thoughts and comments below.