During the next two weeks leading up to our Easter Gathering, our pastors will be posting why they are personally excited about Easter Gathering. For more information, head over to the Easter Gathering page.
Most folks in our culture are horrified of death. We spend lots of time, energy, and money in an effort to make it seem like death is not coming for us. Wrinkles, gray hairs, and sagging skin are avoided at all costs, lest it become clear that death is beginning to make its mark on our bodies. We used to bury our loved ones in graveyards, but that began to sound too bleak so now we place their bodies in a cemetery (Greek for sleeping place). Embalming and death cosmetology have become huge industries, shielding us from having to see what death does to the body. In his 1974 Pulitzer Prize winning book ‘The Denial of Death,’ Ernest Becker says, “the idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human animal like nothing else.” Death has an unavoidable sting to it. Death always feels wrong to us…like it shouldn’t be happening.
This is because, according to Ecclesiastes, God has “set eternity in the hearts of men.” For thousands of years of human existence, death has been a natural part of life. And yet, somehow it still feels unnatural.
All of this, of course, completely squares with the biblical account. We were in fact, created to live forever. Death is a result and consequence of sin…it isn’t “how things ought to be” and deep in our souls we resonate with this truth. This is what makes the resurrection of Jesus so spectacular. It proves that he has power over death. It proves that God really did accept his death as atonement for sin. It means that death no longer has the final word, Jesus does! And it means for believers in Jesus, death has lost its sting.
I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this reality than gathering with our whole church family – both campuses, all 75 LifeGroups, together to see almost 30 people be baptized, and to scream and yell and sing out:
“'O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!" (1 Cor 15:55-57)
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