Musings on Life and Death During Advent

Life is a most wonderful gift and it is passed on to us, generation to generation. And life will always find a way to express itself in spite of all kinds of obstacles and difficulties. The roots of Jesus were not only noble kings and princes. They also included sinners and murderers.

As we go through Advent in preparation for the celebration of life on Christmas, we pray and are promised four gifts, represented by the four candles of Advent: the gifts of love, peace, joy, and hope, specially the hope for eternal life. Eternal life is the fulness of life that Christ promised those who believed in Him.

Our family just lost a dear family member to death, cancer. In spite of the promise of eternal life, we still view death with sadness and grief. it is still seen as a loss and a time for sorrow and tears. If we really take our beliefs seriously, it should be a time for rejoicing and celebration for the deceased has been born to eternal life.

This is just one of the many disconnections I experience when I think about death. Is it wrong to wish for death to finally come to the fulness of life in eternity? Why do we seek to prolong life here on earth, often a great effort and with heroic measures, when our true calling is life everlasting beyond death? Why do we mourn the loss of a departed loved one when he or she has finally left this valley of tears? If heaven is such a great place and the fulfillment of all our yearnings, why are people not in a hurry to get there?

I pray for Adora in joy and gratitude for her life on earth. I am happy that her sufferings are finally over. I am joyful that she is now at peace and living in eternal happiness. And it is with gladness that I will be saying goodbye to her who has gone to where we will all eventually be – in loving communion with the God who gifted us with life. For in Christ, whose birth as a man we are preparing for this Advent, we shall have conquered death.

From the great metaphysical poet, John Donne:

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not soe,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.

Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
~ Psalm 72

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ,
the son of David, the son of Abraham. . . .
. . . .
Abraham became the father of Isaac,
Isaac the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. . . . 
. . . .
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary.
Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ.

Thus the total number of generations
from Abraham to David is fourteen generations;
from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations;
from the Babylonian exile to the Christ, fourteen generations.
Matthew 1:1-17

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