Scripture - John 7:37-39
Breathe on us, breath of God, fill us & refresh us. We come to you on this Pentecost Sunday, ready to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We need to feel reinvigorated & refreshed. Amen.
In the age of coronavirus, there has been LOTS of death in our community, nation & world. As of Thursday, May 28:
11 deaths in Davidson County
766 in NC; 100K in US; 297K worldwide
By contrast, in 2018, coronavirus would be #7 cause of death
Perhaps saddest: no funeral, no visitation, no physical support for loved ones
Even before coronavirus, death was well known
Death of friends & loved ones (despite modern medicine, the ratio remains 1:1)
Death of traditions
In & out of church
Death of the Church (at least certain denominations)
Episcopal Church, ELCA, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Reformed Church, PC-USA, UCC, Disciples of Christ, Moravians
What are we to do? How is a Christian to respond to all of this death?
We should grieve.
Some Christians think grief shows a lack of faith
Yet Jesus grieved at the death of Lazarus
The disciples grieved when Jesus died
Some think the church in Thessalonica was fixated on the deaths of believers – Paul advises they are just ‘sleeping’
No, grief is a human response to death; even a Christian response
We are made for human relationship, so we grieve when a relationship is lost
We grieve, but not as those who don’t have any hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13)
God is the compassionate Father & God of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3)
We should support one another.
Those of us who have experienced the death of a loved one should offer comfort.
We offer the same comfort that we ourselves received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:4)
Those of us who haven’t shared the experience can offer words of hope & comfort
We are to encourage one another in every situation & circumstance
Encourage each other, especially as you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25)
We should recognize death as an opportunity for growth.
How can this be? Death is the end; dead things don’t grow!
Our God brings life out of death!
9 occurrences of dead people raised in Scripture
3 in the Old Testament – by Elijah & Elisha
3 in the New Testament – by Jesus
2 in the New Testament – by Peter & Paul
Each of these folks would die again
Then there is Jesus himself
Mark 16:1-6: When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, & Salome brought spices so that they could go & anoint Jesus’ dead body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb. They were saying to each other, “Who’s going to roll the stone away from the entrance for us?” When they looked up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away. (And it was a very large stone!) Going into the tomb, they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right side; & they were startled. But he said to them, “Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised. He isn’t here. Look, here’s the place where they laid him.”
Matthew 28:1-6: After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene & the other Mary came to look at the tomb… The angel said to the women, “Don’t be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He isn’t here, because he’s been raised from the dead, just as he said. Come, see the place where they laid him.”
Luke 24:1-6: Very early in the morning on the first day of the week, the women went to the tomb, bringing the fragrant spices they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. They didn’t know what to make of this. Suddenly, 2 men were standing beside them in gleaming bright clothing… the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He isn’t here, but has been raised. Remember what he told you while he was still in Galilee.”
John 20:1-2, 11-14: Early in the morning on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb & saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Mary stood outside near the tomb, crying. As she cried, she bent down to look into the tomb. She saw 2 angels dressed in white, seated where the body of Jesus had been, one at the head & one at the foot. The angels asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” She replied, “They have taken away my Lord, & I don’t know where they’ve put him.” As soon as she said this, she turned around & saw Jesus standing there, but she didn’t know it was Jesus.
4 accounts assuring us that Jesus was truly raised; but where is the growth?
1 Corinthians 15:20: But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He’s the firstfruits of those who have died.
Firstfruits = first of the harvest
The first to rise – permanently – from the dead. And we will too!
1 Corinthians 15:21-26: Since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came through one too. In the same way that everyone dies in Adam, so also everyone will be given life in Christ. Each event will happen in the right order: Christ, the firstfruits, then those who belong to Christ at his coming, & then the end, when Christ hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he brings every form of rule, every authority & power to an end. It is necessary for him to rule until he puts all enemies under his feet. Death is the last enemy to be brought to an end.
What is “good grief”?
It is acknowledging our human loss, whatever it is
It is accepting the grace & comfort offered by God, by our friends, & by our fellow believers
It is knowing – trusting – that in Christ, even death is not the end
It is entrusting our loved one & ourselves to the God of mercy, grace & forgiveness
Good grief is never having to say “good-bye.” It is only, “Farewell for now, for we WILL see one another again.”
IF you live with Christ as Savior & Lord
If you have never confessed Jesus as your Savior, there’s no better time than now!
Lord Jesus, I want to know you personally. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life & receive you as my Savior & Lord. Thank you for forgiving me of my sins & giving me eternal life. Take control of my life. Make me the kind of person you want me to be. Amen.