So, this has been a week. It feels like it's been much longer than a week, because it feels like I've gone through so many emotional changes and stages that I couldn't possibly still be the same person.
When I was in the hospital with my father, at a table in the cafeteria actually, I did something kind of morbid. I wrote a list on a napkin of all the friends and people I've known who have died. Mostly young people (actually all but one) and all tragic circumstances. I just needed to see for myself how many, and who, so God forbid I don't forget anyone. Some were real, dear friends, some more acquaintences- but through each loss I've been changed in some way. I went searching for answers when Matt Liedke died in a car accident when I was sixteen. It took me almost 10 years to find what I was looking for.
I am inexplicably drawn to Jesus because of these experiences. I may be something of an expert on surviving the death of friends and loved ones- making sense out of that which makes no sense.
Christ is the only one, the only God, who beats death, yet still experiences it. Believe me, I tried it all. I dove into everything I could get my hands on- Buddhism, Yoga, Tarot- stuff I'd rather not recount. But through all of it, the only satisfying answer I could get on death came from Jesus followers. Christ is the only one who deals with it head on.
God, knowing death's chokehold on humanity, sent himself, his son (the trinity is one, so Christ and God the Father are one)to experience it, and then defeat it.
We focus on the Easter message sometimes a little too quickly. Let us not forget that the agony we experience when we lose a loved one to death, or the agony we experience when facing our own death- is something that Jesus himself experienced. He's been there before, and He goes there with us again. But here's the good news: Death does not have the last word. But you knew that didn't you?
We all know, deep down, that the people we've loved don't simply vanish when they die. That is a part of our built in resonance with God's story. He made us that way.
At Ecclesia in these last weeks, Chris Seay has given the most beautiful account of Heaven than I ever could hope to hear. (Apparently, in Heaven, I will be able to rap on request. Hooray!)
For these messages, and this time, and this church, I am so grateful. It's affirmed for me that I made the right choice. That 20 years since that first, devastating loss, and 10 years since choosing Christ, I am right where I should be. That I've given myself to the Thing that has gotten me through all the loss I've experienced. "The Thing Itself" and not the myth as the poet says.
I'm not entirely lucid, still quite raw and still conflicted about what to do about the one person in my life whose death I've expected all my life, yet who lives- my 82 year old father.
He is someone whose anger, bitterness and resentment has fueled him to hang onto life by his fingernails- to escape death time and again by the skin of his teeth. I can only imagine that God continues to give him do overs- opportunities to choose rightly. But I cannot know these things, I can only guess.
Thanks for being on this journey with me.