Sunday, April 20, 2014

Celebrate Life

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 ESV

Celebration of life - the new term for funeral. Death is now considered normal. If we call the recognition of the event something new, perhaps it isn't so ugly.

Our souls long for eternity. The American culture worships youth, the coming of age, the discovery and exhilaration of sex. We seek to satisfy the deep longing for something eternal and everlasting. In 1965  Mick Jagger and Keith Richards captured this empty quest for something more in the Rolling Stones hit "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction". Life is unsatisfying because, in the end, just like the end of a Shakespearean tragedy, everybody dies.

The ancient cultures from which we all come worshiped that which was outside of their control and in worshiping hoped to control their own fate. For some of us our ancestors worshiped nature; the sun, the moon, animals, and the trees. For others it was our ancestors, or gods made in the image and likeness of human form with all of the foibles and failings that plague human existence.

Miraculously, into this milieu of human religiosity, the concept of an eternal, transcendent, being entered into the human mind and consciousness. We have the Jews to thank for that. In the polytheistic pagan region where they draw their roots, a single man, Abraham, set out on a journey to discover the transcendent, and the world was forever changed.

The conception of God as considered by the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims has essentially become the universal understanding of the entire human race. It is this God that the atheists are so sincere and religious in disbelieving in. It is before this God, if he exists, that we all will one day give an accounting. Unchanging, Undefiled, Uncompromising, Undying, He rules, if He rules at all, in splendor, sovereignty, supremacy, and beauty beyond anything that we human beings can fathom or comprehend. The source of all light, and life, He claims to be the One, the only, the eternity we all live longing for.

What makes Christianity unique is that it proposes that this all seeing, all knowing, holy, and righteous being condescended to come to us. To visit us on our little, insignificant, nondescript ball spinning round and round an indistinguishable light in a vast, mostly empty, and sterile universe. Christianity makes the startling claim that Jesus Christ was the incarnation of the holy and righteous, the One, the "I am who I am" who revealed himself to Moses and gave him the Law we are all so fond of ignoring.

One of the things that rings true to me about Christianity is the idea of the 'good' being crushed, bruised, and murdered by human 'authority'. It seems to be embedded into our DNA to destroy and corrupt the beautiful, the pristine, the sacred. If God condescended himself to become like us, there is no doubt in my mind that we would murder Him if we could.

The beauty of Easter is that despite of our fallen condition, despite our misplaced worship, despite our attempt to humiliate and murder God, He conquered death and did it in a way that opens the door for us to receive the satisfaction for which we are all longing. We have learned that death is not normal. The deep longing for eternal life is that for which we were made. All Christian hope is placed in this singular event; the resurrection of Jesus Christ. "He is risen, He has reason indeed!"

“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” - C.S. Lewis

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