A friend of mine died yesterday. We received the news via text whilst playing Cluedo with a lovely bunch of young people, laughing and bantering, and took the decision to say nothing, postponing our response till the evening was done.
It’s a curiously appropriate parable, isn’t it? The banter, centred around the uncovering of a mystery (Mrs Peacock, in the kitchen with the rope), and something grave and serious remaining unspoken.
The unspoken thing of course is death itself, the great unmentionable party stopper, and the mystery that must be uncovered is our unseen future; tied as it is to the way we live today. And the banter represents the joy and sheer fun of life, which whilst lovely, often drowns out the serious talk which must one day come.
And now, because I am a Christian, I want to talk about Christ. It’s a faith I shared with my dear brother, though he faltered and questioned in the encroaching horror of his cancer. But though he asked that the cup be taken from him, and though he feared its drinking and asked why it must be done, he knew the Christ of the cup, the mystery and the joy too.
Mike wrote a daily blog, and I just now checked to see his last entry, from just a few days back. It was radiant wih that joy:
“It’s another day, we are alive, we are breathing, we can speak, in Him we can move and have our being; so give thanks to the Lord for “His love and mercies endure forever”. Somebody could be wrapping you in a shroud today, so give thanks that it is not your turn yet, but also look forward to what is ahead of you when it is. So exalt and praise His name forever with every breath that you breathe.”
It’s a powerful epitaph, isn’t it? Christ is the joy of life, so “exalt and praise His name with every breath!” Christ is in the suffering of life for His cross made it so (“and I am crucified with Christ”). And the empty tomb means that Christ is in the uncovering of the mystery too, so that you can “look forward to what is ahead of you when it is” your turn.
So Mike’s verse is “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.”
And for us:
Let us live today in Christ’s resurrection light.
Let us live by God’s law of love.
Extending mercy,compassion and joy.
Let us share the gifts God has given.
Practising generosity, hospitality and love.
Let us live as Christ would have us live,
Bringing freedom, justice and hope. (Christine Sine)