17th May 2020
Because Christ lives…1 Cor.15:55-58
170 years ago, the city of Boston prided itself on its beautiful cemetery, Mount Auburn. When they created Central Park in New York, they aimed to model it after Mount Auburn. “Why not have it all, but without the graves?” We try to “have it all but without the graves!” But we can’t. We all live only a heartbeat from eternity. Lockdown is easier for those sharing the company of another they love and care for – and get on with mostly – and for those living in a comfortable home with space, garden and fair weather, than for those confined in cramped conditions in a tower block or living alone and neglected, without contact with people. So also, for some, even in more normal times, life is a constant struggle, largely futile and unfair; for others it is seems easier. But is this all there is? And is there any meaning and purpose to human life?
All those who believe in the reality of God, also believe that God put us on this earth for a specific purpose. Have you found your’s yet? St. Paul did, and he ended up writing, “the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give me on that day, and not to me to me only but to all who have longed for His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)
In the weeks following Easter especially, Christians celebrate that Jesus broke the power of death and darkness over us; and that for all who trust in him, the best is yet to be. You do not have to fear death because Jesus said, “I am right now, Resurrection and life. Whoever believes in me, even though he or she dies, will live. And everyone who dies believing in me does not ultimately die at all. Do you believe all this?” (John 11: 25-26)
Death does cast a long shadow and parting from a loved one – even if only for a while – is painful and hard. This past week, I am mourning the loss of a younger Christian friend who died in the hospice after a 3 year struggle with an aggressive cancer and have wept with her family. But we have the shared assurance of God’s healing that has set her free and of the gracious love, in which she lived over half her earthly life and died and now lives forever. And then on Thursday, a phone call from the wife of my best friend from my teaching days, that Peter was now in end-of-life care. Peter came to faith two years after I had left England to train for the ministry as the Lord spoke to him through the gentle faith of his younger son and of his wife, who had started to believe. I pray for all of you now cut off from family and friends at this time. Jesus promised His friends, “Because I live, you also will live.” – John 14:19b and later on, St. Paul could finish his long chapter of why the resurrection matters, 1 Corinthians 15, by writing, Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory over sin, guilt and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So my dear brothers and sisters, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourself into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for Him is a waste of time or effort.