I recently received a sad email notifying me and others that someone we all knew had ‘passed away’. I liked the person, what I knew of him, and we enjoyed brief visits and banter as our paths crossed on a weekly basis over the past ten years.
I began to think of how we deal with death and wonder about the term ‘passing away’. How strange that so many accept the finality of death without question or curiosity…. or do we? Is it perhaps a way of avoiding a hard questions and are we accomplices in ongoing denial? Why? I mean, think about this with me for a minute please. If we received an email informing us that so-and-so had disappeared, we would be on the phone and working on strategies to find them, rescue them, help in any way we could. But ‘pass away’ – which really means disappeared through death, seldom evokes such a response. So we have thanksgivings for life and ignore the uncomfortable wall we press against as death looms large.
Of course in Christianity we believe that Jesus passed away and then incredibly… passed back into life… he disappeared and then reappeared. He demonstrated that there need not be a fear of death or a ‘passing away’. Instead death has lost its sting because of his death and resurrection which makes all the difference in the world. Now, there is the joy of passing on, not disappearing but transitioning to a ‘better place’. Of course we still grieve for our loss…. but where there is faith in Jesus we rejoice in the confidence that Joe has not disappeared but at last is fully whole in a place we call heaven that has been prepared for him. How cool is that!?
When I die I expect to be more alive than ever, not passed away but ‘finally arriving’…… all because of Jesus.