Art of Persistence

"The art of love ... is largely the art of persistence." -Albert Ellis

Saturday, July 22, 2006

A Good Word

Every funeral marks a tragedy. We feel that tragedy most sharply at the funeral of the youngest of the victims of death. And although our minds might tell us that the funeral of an old, sick, great-grandfather isn't as much of a tragedy as the funeral of a young child, our hearts tell us otherwise. Our hearts know that this isn't the way it's supposed to be. We weren't made to last just a few decades. Death is not what we were created for. This is one of the points of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve: God didn't bring Death into this world, we did. This is why every death is a tragedy.

But I don't believe, and my Dad didn't believe that the story ended with the banishment of Adam and Eve from Paradise. The Uncreated One came into the world to restore all of creation. The Creator of Man became a man to redeem all men. The Deathless One endured death to destroy death. Adam and Eve are not the end of the story. Jesus is. And though we shed tears now, and suffer and strive, we have been given a glimpse of the end. And it is not a tragedy.

"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard,

Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him." 1 Cor. 2:9 (NKJV)

Many preachers can't seem to resist turning a funeral service into an "evangelistic crusade." I guess it seems like a natural opportunity to them. With a little nudge everyone of us can see into the future and see ourselves layed out in a coffin. With a mention of the possibility of an eternity in Hell, maybe they can "save a soul." But this technique does a disservice to the memory of those who, like my Dad, didn't live as a Christian in order to avoid Hell. My Dad never lectured me that I should or shouldn't behave in a certain manner in order to avoid Hell. With my Dad it was all about pleasing God, it was about being thankful that God had delivered him from the self-destructive path he was on.

Now at Pascha I know I'll be thinking about both of my parents as we sing: "Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down Death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life."

(The above is based on comments I made at my Dad's funeral in December 2005.)