Yesterday I wrote about death. Yesterday was a draining day. I presided at a graveside funeral, planned two other funerals with grieving families, and scheduled when I’ll be doing funeral planning with a fourth family.
But it was also a day full of promise. So often we don’t want to deal with the reality of death. We’d rather avoid it altogether. We’d rather put on a happy face. But death is here and it is real. It walks among us. It touches our lives.
And I think we need to experience the fullness of death in order to really understand and appreciate resurrection.
How can someone really grasp what resurrection means if they don’t really know what death is? Without truly knowing death, resurrection is just a nice sounding idea with nothing deeper. It’s something we’ll think about later. It’s boring. It’s something that sounds good in theory.
But it is so much more. When we consider that without resurrection death is the end. Death is annihilation – complete non-existence. Death is hell. Death has power and control over all of creation. That’s death without resurrection. Without resurrection, death leaves us hopeless and purposeless. What’s the point if we all just end up dead.
But resurrection is good news – the best news in the history of creation. It’s the news the church gets to proclaim. It proclaims this news in the midst and in the face of death. It shouts right in death’s face saying “you lose!”
Resurrection isn’t just some idea that is nice. It’s about transformed and renewed life. Life we will experience. Resurrection is a message of hope. Resurrection is a message of purpose. Resurrection is a message of life.
The people who recently died are dead. But they have been promised resurrection. And so have we.
But death is more than just physical death. People experience death in many ways – death of a relationship, a job, physical abilities, meaning for their life, purpose, etc. We experience death of organizations and causes. Death is not the ridiculous way it is presented in entertainment. That isn’t death at all. It’s over the top and beyond being able to relate to it. It is fake and false.
And when we experience death, it is only then that we are ready to experience resurrection – new life, transformed life. New opportunities and adventures.
But we only really understand and appreciate resurrection when we have gone through death.