Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Christ is the only cure to death

Several years ago I was speaking with a clergy friend about hospital ministry. He had a parishioner who was a well known oncologist who said once, “We’re lucky if we save one out of ten patients we see.” My clergy friend answered, “I’ve got news for you. You haven’t saved ANY. They all still die.”

When it comes to our earthly journey through the paths of pain and suffering, we expend a great deal of energy avoiding death. As Americans we spend billions of dollars in the last month of life attempting at all costs (sometimes quite literally) to find the last minute cure to what ails us. Our American political environment has been consumed with discussion about healthcare in recent years, mainly to address the skyrocketing cost to families. Most of this conversation focuses on terminal cases such as cancer treatments and organ transplants etc. At times it seems we will spend anything to avoid death.

Death has been a part of life since Adam and Eve first left the protection of the Garden. We read about that two weeks ago. Today we hear that Noah was SIX HUNDRED years old when the flood came, and he lived longer after the flood. Noah (just like every patient of my friend’s doctor) eventually died at the age of 950. Some today don’t really believe the numbers given in the Holy Scriptures, and quite frankly I don’t think it really matters. The point I wish to make today is that no matter what you do, you will eventually die.

The only cure for death is a relationship with Christ. Christ came that we might have life. He didn’t come for us to enjoy THIS life, but that we could have eternal life with Him. The life we live now is to prepare us for that life with Him. Take some time today to evaluate your relationship with Christ and His Church. Are you expending energy on avoiding pain and suffering, or are you expending energy preparing your soul to be with Christ? The Great Fast is our annual reminder that we don’t know when our time here is finished. Let’s not waste any more time on avoiding death, and spend some quality time preparing for it.

Here are today’s Old Testament Readings
Isaiah 10:12-20 (RSV) -  When the Lord has finished all his work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem he will punish the arrogant boasting of the king of Assyria and his haughty pride.  For he says: "By the strength of my hand I have done it, and by my wisdom, for I have understanding; I have removed the boundaries of peoples, and have plundered their treasures; like a bull I have brought down those who sat on thrones.  My hand has found like a nest the wealth of the peoples; and as men gather eggs that have been forsaken so I have gathered all the earth; and there was none that moved a wing, or opened the mouth, or chirped."  Shall the axe vaunt itself over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood!  Therefore the Lord, the LORD of hosts, will send wasting sickness among his stout warriors, and under his glory a burning will be kindled, like the burning of fire.  The light of Israel will become a fire, and his Holy One a flame; and it will burn and devour his thorns and briers in one day.  The glory of his forest and of his fruitful land the LORD will destroy, both soul and body, and it will be as when a sick man wastes away.  The remnant of the trees of his forest will be so few that a child can write them down.  In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean upon him that smote them, but will lean upon the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, in truth.
 Genesis 7:6-9 (RSV) -  Noah was six hundred years old when the flood of waters came upon the earth.  And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons' wives with him went into the ark, to escape the waters of the flood.  Of clean animals, and of animals that are not clean, and of birds, and of everything that creeps on the ground, two and two, male and female, went into the ark with Noah, as God had commanded Noah.
 Proverbs 9:12-18 (RSV) - If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; if you scoff, you alone will bear it.  A foolish woman is noisy; she is wanton and knows no shame.  She sits at the door of her house, she takes a seat on the high places of the town, calling to those who pass by, who are going straight on their way,  "Whoever is simple, let him turn in here!" And to him who is without sense she says,  "Stolen water is sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant."  But he does not know that the dead are there, that her guests are in the depths of Sheol.

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