Bread – Death

October 21, 2009


Readings for Wednesday, October 21 as
    designated by the Book of Common Prayer:
    Lam. 2:8-15; 1 Cor. 15:51-58; Matt. 12:1-14
    Psalms 38, 119:25-48

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Death comes in many forms.  We can be dead to our friends – so removed from them, so out of their sight, so out of sync with their values and activities, that we are considered dead by them.  We can have such misery that we may feel dead – misery caused by physical disease or physical or mental defect, misery caused by economic circumstances, or misery caused by social circumstances.  We can be actually dead.

Our readings today speak to death in various forms.  In Matthew, Jesus heals the man with the withered hand, comparing him to a sheep who is lost in a pit (unless rescued, dead).  Matt. 12:11-13.  In Lamentations, the writer speaks of the misery caused by the loss of his social structure, his country’s and his people’s captivity to Babylon ("Your wound is as deep as the sea."  Lam. 2:13e), as well as the slow death from starvation which is overtaking the citizens left behind in Jerusalem.  Lam. 2:10-12.  In Psalms, the writer acknowledges that he is in bad shape ("My back is filled with searing pain; there is no health in my body.  I am feeble and utterly crushed; I groan in anguish of heart."  Psalm 38:7-8).

In our depression, in our pit, in our low estate we may see no way out, but each of our readings today says that, indeed, there is a way out.  In Lamentations, the writer says "Your wound is as deep as the sea" and then immediately asks the question "Who can heal you?"  The Psalmist answers God, saying "Come quickly to help me, O Lord my Savior."  Psalm 38:22.   In Matthew, we have the answer to that question – Jesus heals the man with the withered hand. 

But it is in today’s readings from Paul in his first letter to the church in Corinth that we have the boldest statement of our relationship to death when we are followers of Jesus the Christ:

"‘Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?’  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory [over sin and death] through our Lord Jesus Christ."  1 Cor. 15:55-56

Death in any form is no loss and no barrier when we trust in Jesus Christ.  It is still something which cannot be mastered by me.  However, it is something which has been overcome by Christ.  He has mastered death and I can rely upon Him to lift me up over and beyond death into life.

Upon whom do you rely to effectively defeat death?  There are really only three choices — no-one, yourself, or someone else.  If your answer is nobody because you accept death as the inevitable end, I have nothing to say.  If you choose yourself, ask yourself what abilities you have which can defeat death in any form.  If you choose someone else, then why not pick the person who has proven to the world that He has died, was buried, and arose from the dead?  Why not pick the person who has proven that He can do it by doing it?  Why not choose Jesus Christ?

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