When Death Comes

March 24, 2013

Whether death comes as waves crashing on the shore, or earthquake shaking the foundations, or like fog, creeping in on cat feet, when death comes, things change forever. There is forever an empty place at the table. Songs are lost and favorite jokes. No one sings or delivers the punch line like the one lost. When death comes, even after long illness, even after the fatigue of care-giving has taken its toll, even when the rational heart is relieved that the pain and struggle are over, there is another pain brewing and hard realities.  “She was so young.” “He was in the prime of his life.” “She was just a child.” "Why did such a good person have to suffer so much?” When death comes as thief in the night, Shock is a first responder. Then the sisters of grief  show up, uninvited visitors… Anger, Denial, Disbelief. They unpack the ever unanswered question: Why? When death comes to the aged, the place at the table is still empty, even though the chair is draped with good memories and thanksgiving. We remember good times and hard times, and begin our coming to grips with mortality and the ever forward march of time. When death comes, especially in the season of Lent, there is thought of the story of Jesus. Entering the gates of Jerusalem, here comes a different kind of king than was expected into the Passover crowd. They are cheering their hope, not knowing that death is waiting in the wings. I guess if we are honest, death is always waiting in the wings. We live into it every day. We are called to reckon with it alongside Jesus in what become his last days. This thing we know, when death comes… to Jesus, and to our sons and daughters, our mothers and our fathers, our sisters and our brothers, death is not the final word. Death may be in the wings, but the final song is Resurrection. We will quietly enter the Passion, sup in the upper room, pray in Gethsemane. But come Sunday, “Alleluia” will be uncovered and the trumpet will sound the Light that shines in the darkness. For all our losses and all the pain of death, may you and all of us be strengthened in the hope of what is coming. “Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.” Participate in the mystery and give thanks. Amen.

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