a priest's musings on the journey

Friday, April 11, 2008

In the Midst of Life We Are In Death

This has been an emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining week- a week of wrestling with a young person struggling with issues of life that have overwhelmed him and led him to hoplessness and suicidal thoughts; a week of celebrating the life of a godly servant of God and the Church who died yesterday; and a week of helping an elderly man who has come to end of his journey prepare to let go of the life in this world and to be ready to greet the Holy Angels summoned to carry his soul to the bosom of God.

I was feeling a bit conflicted and overwhelmed about my week with Death, especially in the middle of Eastertide- until this morning when I realized that the Resurrected Christ has been present in each of these situations (You'd think I'd have figured that out before now, since I'm a priest-) Suddenly, I am feeling peace with the potential for new life that the Holy Spirit is birthing in this young man as he seeks professional help for his troubles. I am feeling joyful that two servants of God have entered into the glories of the beatific vision are at rest from their labors.

In the midst of life we are in death, says the anthem at the beginning of the Burial Mass in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. But it's a good death- a holy death-a death to our false self and to those things that separate us from the love of God and from community with others. It is a death that leads to true life in God, enjoyed not only in the life to come, but even today if we can but open our eyes to see the Risen Christ at work around us, breathing the life-giving Spirit into our dead corpses and raising us to new life. And so I rest, remembering again the joy of Easter morning, when bells were rung, the organ shouted in joy, and the people of God rejoiced to hear that the Lord is Risen! Alelluia! Alelluia!

I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction? (Hosea 13:14)

"DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. "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. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:54ff)
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 7:27 AM


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