Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Death Glorious and Triumphant

     We can't escape the fact that we live in a world full of both beauty and pain.  For whatever reasons, the God who made it seems content to let us experience the spectrum.  I have spent years wondering why; I'm sure I will spend many more seeking to understand this mysterious plan.  On the one hand, pain and loss have undone me; on the other hand, I have experienced transcendent moments of beauty and peace, signposts of a world to come.
    In the midst of both devastation and joy, we are called to be content with whatever situation we have been given while simultaneously striving for the restoration offered by  God's Kingdom in the midst of a broken world.
     Peter Kreeft captures the tension well:

"On the one hand, suffering is blessed. Count it as joy when you go through manifold tribulations.  On the other hand, we are supposed to relieve it - like poverty.  Blessed are the poor - and yet the relief of poverty is one of the commandments of Christianity.  Death, which is the fishnet that catches all the fish of poverty and every other suffering in itself, is the worst thing.  It is the last enemy.  Jesus comes to conquer it through resurrection.

On the other hand, death is glorious.  There is an old oratorio that has this hauntingly beautiful line: "Thou has made death glorious and triumphant, for through its portals we enter into the presence of the living God."  Somehow or other, in this strange drama, the worst things are used as the best things.  Even morally, the worst sin ever committed, the most horrible atrocity ever perpetrated in the history of the world, was the murder of God's Son, and Christians celebrate this as Good Friday and the cause of the their salvation.  It is very strange - like life."

- from Socrates in the City

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