A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Showing posts with label Resurrection. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Resurrection. Show all posts

Monday, July 6, 2009

Celebrity Deaths & a Christian Response

Over the past several days, several celebrities have died and we have been reminded of how fragile life really is. From Ed McMahon to Steve McNair, people we have seen in the news and the tabloids over the past several years are no longer with us.

My hunch is that in addition to the glitz and stardom that will be present at tomorrow's memorial service for Michael Jackson, there will probably be at least some reference to spirituality to help bring comfort to the immediate family, not to mention a grieving world. I'm not quite sure if Michael embraced a specific religion but I'm thinking that he might have had a blending of various religious faiths.

During times such as this, I think it's important to emphasize that the Christian faith has a very specific message for a grieving world and it's a message of tremendous hope. In very brief summary form, here are the key elements of this distinctive hope in the face of death:
  • God, the creator of the universe and who called creation good, grieves over suffering, death, loss, and sin. To enhance this point, the bible goes to great lengths in describing what God is like with images such as a good shepherd, a loving father, and a woman who searches frantically to find a lost coin. As with any tragedy or death, sharing how God surrounds us, loves us, and searches for us is the place to start when sharing the hope of our faith.
  • In order to reclaim a world that is torn by death and sin, God chose to make a covenant with us (first with the people of Abraham & the people of Israel) in which we were called to be faithful in following God.
  • We have failed to live out our end of this covenant and in order for God to remain faithful to God's own promise to redeem the world, God sent Jesus, who through his perfect obedience and death on the cross, became our representative of what it means to offer ourselves fully and completely for God.
  • The amazing news that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead on Easter morning and that several eyewitnesses reported seeing him in his physically transformed body, was vindication that Jesus was in fact the Son of God, the one who was to bring salvation to the world.
  • After appearing before his disciples in his resurrected body for forty days, Jesus ascends to be with God, the Father in heaven. The Christian hope is that there will be a day when Jesus will reappear on this earth and through a special act of God's grace will set up God's kingdom throughout all of creation and God's glory will fill all the earth.
  • In the meantime, through the gift of the Holy Spirit and through faith in Jesus Christ, we are called to live out this hope through word and deed having full assurance that death and sin will not have the last word.
  • And here's the really good part...a time will come when all of God's people will be reunited in God's kingdom and this will be a time of great joy and feasting. This will be a time of no more mourning, tears, death, sin, or suffering. This is where our Christian hope was headed all along from the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation.

This is what I want mourners throughout the world to hear and embrace as they seek comfort and consolation during this time of loss. This is the distinctive message of the good news that the Christian faith has to offer the world at times such as this.