Life and Death

Life and Death

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22 July 2018 | Vicar Writes

Life and Death

By Terry Wong

Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints. Psalms 116:15

We bid farewell to May Chew, Lois Soo and Wendy Woon last weekend. Do you know that the Bible talks a lot about death? Let me explain. The Bible is not a scientific manual to be treated as an ancient codebook for science which today’s scientific inquiries can never probe or contradict. It is not an IT manual or a cookery book.

It is a book about life.

It is about the core matters that are at the heart of human lives, how the human persons relate to each other (social) and to God (spiritual) and to the world (creation). It focuses on many issues which form the fabric of life. The Book of Ecclesiastes (currently a sermon series for 9 am Service) is one such example.

Now, death is "un-life", at least life as we know it here on earth.   

The Bible focuses on death simply because it is focused on life itself, including the end of it and where it leads from there (after-life). The Gospels are unusual biographies. Most biographies leave death to the last chapter or last few paragraphs. The gospels devote more than half of their material on Jesus’ death. For the life of Jesus is centred on his death-mission.

It talks about time because our life here is marked by time. The Book of Revelation looks at our time and beyond it.  

When you really think about it, the death of a saint is not a postlude of life. It is a culmination of a life - whether well or badly lived. The Bible makes it clear that death is a comma, not a period, in the sentence of life.

The Church has always talked about the communion of saints. Jesus stood up to receive St Stephen when he was being stoned to death (Acts 7:54-60). We were told (Psalms 116:15) that the Lord intently gazed at the death of every saint. Jesus said himself on a few occasions, “Remember me.” You do not need to embrace ancestral worship to be connected to your loved ones who have died. There are very rich Christian and biblical ways to celebrate these connections and to live our lives in a way where we are conscious of those who have gone before us (Hebrews 12:1-3). In fact, every Sunday, we let those who are long gone and dead speak to us. I am referring to our Bible-based sermons.

If you are seated in the Nave, remember that it has a cruciform shape. The cross was an instrument of death. In fact, much of our liturgy and hymns focus on the issues of life and death.  

Life and "unlife" truly matters.

One day, we will all gather before His throne. Do spot out for May Chew, Lois Soo and Wendy Woon.