Saturday, March 22, 2008
The Death of Death
Yesterday's Good Friday worship put me face-to-face with the reality of sin and death. The full weight of that ancient curse of sin rested fully on and in His tortured dying body. Yet before his last breath escaped the promise of new life emerged. It is finished. The mission to defeat sin and death was completed. In full. Their curse rendered empty. News of my uncle's death last night reminded me how much the comfort of the cross and the empty tomb means to the believer. Since the mid-80's my family has been affected by death again and again: uncle in '84, grandfather in '86, father in '88, mother-in-law in '99, uncle in '01, mother in '02, grandmother in '06, and now my uncle in '08. I know that I am not alone and many suffer the same grief. My uncle's death was especially difficult in that it was a sudden logging accident. All at once he was gone. No good-byes. No time to prepare.
Tomorrow, however, I will rejoice in the victory of new life, not in the defeat of death. St. Paul has assured us that the last enemy to be fully destroyed will be death. It's final demise is imminent. The shadow looms weakly for now, but the light of life in Christ has broken through and the darkness is retreating. As the baptized we were buried into the death of Jesus and raised with Him to newness of life. I live in the life of Christ in the midst of death.
As one of my favorite hymns declares:
I fear no foe with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight and tears no bitterness.
Where is death's sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still if Thou abide with me!
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies.
Heav'n's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
(Abide with Me, LSB 878, by Henry F. Lyte, 1793-1847)
A blessed Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord to all who pass this way. May the joy of His rising renew in you an undying hope in the gift of life in Him who died and rose and lives forevermore!