08 September 2007

Jaroslav Pelikan

is reported to have said upon his deathbed:

"If Christ is raised from the dead, then nothing else matters. If Christ is not raised from the dead then nothing matters."

How utterly true those words! As the sorrows of death encompass us, threatening to swallow us up, this is the comfort we have: Christ Jesus has defeated death, and done so for us. He plants into His people a life that death cannot destroy. This is our hope and this is our joy and we cling to it in the face of all the mounting sorrows that fill our lives and the lives of people that we know and love.

The foe in triumph shouted
When Christ lay in the tomb;
But lo, he now is routed,
His boast is turned to gloom.
For Christ again is free
In glorious victory;
He who is strong to save
Has triumphed o'er the grave.

This is a sight that gladdens -
What peace it doth impart!
Now nothing ever saddens
The joy within my heart.
No gloom shall ever shake,
No foe shall ever take,
The hope which God's own Son
In love for me has won.
LSB 467:2,3


Mr. & Mrs. Traylor said...

I like the way you said that:
" He plants into His people a life that death cannnot destroy."
That's good. I'm going to try to remember that. Thank you.

As a preschool teacher there are times grandparents and parents experiance grief because of abortion, miscarrage, stillbirth or any number of other ways for a child to die. Just this week I sent home a warning about lead poison on toys and poison mushrooms. Thank God He has provided heaven for such as these little ones, who suffer to come unto Him, thosands of children die every year.
Do you have the book When Your Baby Dies through Miscarriage or Stillbirth ?

William Weedon said...

Thanks for the kind words. I heard just this morning of a dear member who suffered a miscarriage recently. We'll commend her to God's hands in our Divine Services this weekend. I've not seen the book, I must confess. I take it that it is recommended?

Mr. & Mrs. Traylor said...

Yes. Pastor Lange was kind enough to give me a copy of the book to have on hand at Topeka Lutheran Preschool. The last mommy I gave it to was really caught up in a net of sadness for about a month and it was effecting her marrage and her four year old daughter, who was in my class. Now I'm not saying the book itself was the solution, I believe God Himself healed her broken heart but just like St. Paul gave his friends aprons and napkins, sometimes we need something to touch and hold to serve to remind us that we are loved by the people at church. Each week she seem to be more healthy and finally after about a month she brought the book back to me, with a gentle smile and a sincere thank you.It had been like a leaf of healing from God's tree of life.
For the children in my class and my own grandkids I read " Grandpa is There a Heaven ?" a CPH Book.I'm still afraid to die sometimes, especially in the middle of the night I'm a little tempted, but I haven't had an axiouty attack on several years. I'm thankful now though that I know what it's like to be afraid to die, it helps me help other people to get through there fear of death because I've experianced how insane it can drive a person. My mom is 76 and ever so often she calls me on the phone and we talk about death and she tells me that she's not afraid, but I don't think she's being honest with herself or with me. I appreciate God giving me my husband and my Pastor but when I think about actually getting to look into the face of Jesus when I'm in heaven an adams apple comes to my throat, tears fill my eyes and my heart beats a little faster. To be born again, to leave the earth and go to heaven, must be an amazing journey. I have three children, life inside my tummy must have been like being in the darkness of earth, and life outside my tummy must be like being in heaven with the Light of Jesus being everywhere in His Heavenly Kingdom. Oh Joy Rapture !

William Weedon said...

The terror of death is a concrete reality that we all have to come to terms with. Our entire pilgrimage and every trial along the way is geared toward preparing us for that last battle. Can we trust the promises of God in Christ, that His life - given into us - is greater than that death? That His forgiveness - imparted to us -is stronger than our sin? As we move toward that moment when we will have to wrestle with death for ourselves, we see that everything along the way has been a loving God's preparation for us to meet our deadly enemy in the strength of His victory, the joy of His life.

Peace to you and to your family in Him who is Death's Defeat and our Eternal Joy!

Past Elder said...

Death is no stranger in my house. One wife and mother of our two kids, three grandparents (my two and one of hers) and two pets.

Yet I don't think death is the terror it used to be, for many people. And I think that is due to the post-Christian culture.

A minority of people I talk to are quite at peace with the idea that they are going to die, as in cease to be, regard it as simply the end of a process, much like sleep ends a day, and think death is only a problem when you decide it shouldn't be and start to invent fables about how it isn't. To them, concern about one's place in the afterlife is simply selfishness and a denial of life while we have it.

But a great many people already believe in everlasting life and that they have it, consequently Christianity presented on those terms is no message at all to them other than one of the world's many culturally conditioned expressions of man's intuition that phyhsical death is not the end of life.

For them, Christianity does not seem to bring anything they do not already think they have. I think we forget that in our evangelisation. It is not at all that they are without hope. They have hope in something other than we do for the same outcome, a good turnout in the afterlife.

Consequently, they are not at all relieved of their fear of death by our message because they already expect an afterlife anyway. And when told that this afterlife comes about in a specific way, not the way they think it does, we come off as simply tied to one version of a universal message.

I think our approach is going to have to be more that of St Paul, picking up on what they already sense about God, and then telling them more, building on the natural knowledge of God at first.

Mr. & Mrs. Traylor said...

I think you're right Past Elder. St. Paul used stuff he found that was available in their culture, like the nameless stone god in Rome, as a visual aid to help educate the people. God gave the same approach to St. Patrick who He called to service to the people living in Ireland. From what I have read, the people were caught up in their works trying to save themselves much like the people living here in Kansas when God brought Father Padilla over here to share the good news with them.
His approach must not have been as appealing to the people, they killed him. On the otherhand St. Paul and St. Patrick must have chosen the better approach because the people were willing to listen to what they had to say to them. I've noticed I tend to shut down the lines of communication all together when I'm judgemental and critical.
For some reason, most of the people in my family are content to leave Jesus on the back burner until they need Him for something.

For example at Preschool or with my grandchildren God might help me use this as an approach. I have a toy Disney movie " Aladdin's Lamp " that has a floating cube with simple answers that can be read by a child that has just rubbed the toy lamp, asked a question and opened the lid to see what the genie had to say. With the Muslim population growing as it is here in America , this might be a vissual aid to illustrate the truth about Jesus Christ. Atleast it would be something they could identify with from their culture, a starting point for a possible fruitful conversation. It is my understanding that people in the Islam Religion have developed the oppenion that most of us Christians are very disrespectful of our Bibles and treat God's Word like a magic lamp with a genie inside. In truth,I have to admit that I've been guilty of showing our Lord that much disrespect myself, nothing to be proud of. Staying mindful of my own personal sinfulness seems to help me shy away from " Glory Theology " . If we are going to be at all hopeful living as a neighbor to a person who was born into the Islamic faith, the Buddist faih the Hindu faith...
Yes we're free to be stiff necked and tell them all to " Go To Hell " but that doesn't seem to be the best approach.