ON DEATH AND DYING

This past week I was saddened to hear of the deaths of two people. Rosie Stump, Stephane’s great aunt, passed away last Wednesday. The following day Glen Brause, a man with several connections to Hope Church, also passed away. Even though Rosie was 77, her death was a tremendous shock to her family and friends. She had great energy and vitality and was a blessing to those around her, but last Wednesday night, heart failure claimed her life. Glen’s death, however, was much less of a shock to his friends and family. Glen was 89 years old and over the past year, I had visited Glen several times and could see that his health was slowly declining. Perhaps it is because I am now in pastoral ministry, but the reality of death and dying has hit home with me like never before. I know that we are all aware that 1 out of 1 die and that we are mortal, but sometimes we live in denial of death. In short, we lack an eternal perspective – a perspective that sees today as counting for tomorrow and ultimately, for eternity. Hebrews 9:27-28 brings an important reminder. “27Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” When we understand that one day we will be judged for how we lived on earth, we will be more likely to live with an eternal perspective. Having an eternal perspective simply means that we live every day for Jesus and not for ourselves. I heard one preacher say that he preaches as a dying man to dying men. Now that’s perspective! So why should I focus on death and dying when during the Christmas season, the birth of the Savior is the focus? Well, let’s go back to our passage in Hebrews. In a sense, Jesus was born to die. Verse 28 says that Christ was sacrificed to take away the sins of the world. As we reflect on the birth of Christ, we can’t help but fast-forward 33 years to the horrific death of Christ. The greatest tragedy in human history became its greatest victory through what Christ achieved on the cross. So I want to encourage you to live with an eternal perspective, knowing that one day you will die, whether you are young or old, sick or healthy. I also want to encourage you that as you celebrate the first coming of Christ, to know that the second coming is nearing by the day. Jesus could return tomorrow – are you ready?

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