I find myself thinking a little about death today. That may seem slightly odd coming from someone who just turned 26, but hey - if not now, then when? Whenever I am scheduled to die, I am a year closer to it now than I was at my last birthday. And given that I don't know the date, it seems sensible to give it some thought while I have the chance.
Understand, I'm not being morbid. I'm not hugely upset by the idea of my own death. I genuinely expect it to lead into new life. (I am quite scared of illness, I confess. But I am trying to teach myself to view that too with more hope). If I died tomorrow, it would be okay for me. It would be grim, no doubt, for many people who were left. I hope that you would all be nice to those people and support them in whatever way you could. But for me it would be okay.
At church on Sunday morning we heard a great sermon on the end of 1 Thessalonians. The Christians in Thessalonica are worried about Christians who have died. They want to know what's happened to them, and whether they've lost out through their death. Paul reassures them. Don't grieve as others do, he says. Grieve, certainly, but not in the same way everyone else does. Why not? Because you have hope. And it's not a vague hope either, something that may or may not happen. It's not mere speculation. It's certain, because it's grounded in a historical fact. Jesus died and rose, and therefore all those who die belonging to him by faith will be raised to be with him. And then at the end of time, this awaits us all:
For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.And that's why I'm really okay with being closer to 30 than 20 today.