coming to grips with death

That’s what I was trying to do for most of last week. I gave a talk about our powerlessness before death (launching from Mark 5.21-42) for the La Trobe Uni Christian Union on Wednesday. And I’m in the thick of drafting two seminars for this year’s mid year Summit, ‘In His Image’ (on Genesis 1-3) — one on creation, evolution and all that; the other on suffering.

And it’s quite current, I guess. Hard core fans and curious onlookers learned last week that coming to grips with death — or failing to come to grips with it — was what the TV series Lost has been about all these years. Which, while probably not as cutting-edge and postmodern as some might hope, makes for interesting territory to explore.

Because there are all sorts of illegitimate ways to come to grips with death. Ways that short-circuit things. Like refusing to permit yourself to grieve. Or simply writing death off as natural — one more link in the endless chain of causes and effects, something that may hurt if you’ve got too involved or lost touch with reality, but nothing unusual or tragic.

But I for one don’t want to let go of the tragic ‘wrongness’ of death (as much as it’s a pretty much a universal constant, affecting us all eventually). There must be a sense in which it’s right to ‘Rage, rage against the dying of the light’ with Dylan Thomas — especially when the living God makes promises like this:

And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 25.7-8)

No. Coming to grips too readily with death doesn’t quite make sense for those who trust in a risen Saviour!

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