Saturday, November 26, 2016

Lux Aeterna. . .

As November closes, I am drawn to the remembrance of now two years ago when my wife and I abandoned our Thanksgiving plans and went to be with her father in his last hours on this earth.  And then only a few months later we made our way to be with my own father in his last days on this earth.  It was a blessed thing to be with them in their death even as I admit that death itself is cruel and mean, an enemy to be vanquished only by Him whose death kills death for all.  Only God could take something as ugly and dark as death and plant within it the hope of life!  His one and only Son entered our death and laid in the belly of the earth but it could not claim Him as it claimed us and now, because He is risen, we too hope for the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting.

Listen.  If you are hurting, here is comfort.  If you despair, here is hope.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Rev. Peters: You write, “It was a blessed thing to be with them in their death even as I admit that death itself is cruel and mean, an enemy to be vanquished only by Him whose death kills death for all.” I have read similar reflections in other posts from you on the subject of death.
I suspect that some of your antipathy to death comes simply from your seminary training, when it was the right answer to an exam question.
As I understand it, when Scripture speaks about death, it actually speaks of three “deaths”:
The first is the death Adam died when he and Eve sinned in the Garden. In this death mankind lost its innocence and became an enemy of God. Since we do not think of this event as death, we often wonder whether Satan was right when he said, “You will not die.” But indeed they died, separating themselves from God while their bodies and souls where still firmly joined together. In this death they made all mankind enemies of God.
The second death is the one all people experience, except those who will be alive when our Lord returns. Our Lord spoke of His own death when He told His Disciples, John 14:28, “If you loved Me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father.” The Blessed Simeon looked forward to death when he said, “Lord, now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace,” and St. Paul writes to the Philippians (1:21), “For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.”
My wife recently went to be with the Lord. I have never seen her as peaceful as during the last moments of her earthly life, when she knew that she was about to pass into Paradise and find relief from the disease that caused her suffering during her last months.
When you call death cruel and mean, do you really mean “death” or do you mean the process that leads up to it and that can indeed be extremely cruel and mean?
Death is cruel and mean to the unbeliever, but to those who are saved it is a welcome gate to eternal joy in the presence of God our Savior, even as it was to the penitent thief on the cross. I look forward to it myself.
The third death is the eternal death of those who are condemned at the last Judgement. Inasmuch as it conforms to the justice of an all-merciful God, I hesitate to call even this death “cruel and mean.”
It may be that before we knew about the redemption God has brought about through His Son, death could be considered “cruel and mean.” However, our Lord, Who is the only One Who can turn evil into good, has even redeemed death. 1 Cor. 15:55, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”
Peace and Joy in life and death.
George A. Marquart