’tis the season…to ponder human mortality.
Throughout the Church, many Christians take the weeks before Easter to seriously consider the weight of their sin and their great need for a Savior. While Easter is always a time for joy, I personally find my joy increases exponentially when I have first spent time mourning what the old hymn calls “my helpless estate”. I can so often live in the post-resurrection life that I forget it wasn’t always this way. More, I forget the rest of the reality. I fall short of the glory of God, no matter how hard I try. I cannot become perfect. I cannot earn eternal life.
To be human is, necessarily, to be sinful. To be sinful is, necessarily, to be condemned to death.
I’ve been thinking about this fact a lot over the past few weeks—partly due to the season, but also because it seems like every day I have been reminded of the inevitable loss that comes as part of living: Tragedies occur all over the world. Dear friends host what should be a birthday party for a beloved husband and father, had he not passed away last year. My own grandparents are suddenly not just old, but fragile, and I am forced to acknowledge that our time together is quickly slipping away. I have been burdened by the dark sorrow of death and dying.
But then comes Sunday.
All Sundays are mini-Easters; that’s why we gather together Sunday morning rather than Friday night, as Israel did. When the weight of the week threatens to swallow us up, Sunday reminds us there is more to the truth. Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried, true. BUT. On the third day, He rose again.
This past Sunday I went to a church made up of about thirty people, most of whom are at least fifty years older than myself. They, of course, understand the reality of death much better than I can. The deacon who prayed over the offering had actually lost a friend that very week. And yet, when he spoke of it he had nothing but joy—he knows his friend has gone to be with the Lord, and what is there to be sad for in that? Death, he reminded me with Paul, is not only the problem but also the solution, while it is still called today. Death gives life in a real way. Christ’s death gives us life, and his resurrection shows us what that new life will be.
We grieve—and we should—over death, which continually reminds us of our transgressions against our holy Lord. In a perfect world, it would never have been this way. But praise be to God, the giver of life, who does not let us languish but sends us Sundays to say, “I will swallow up death for all time.”