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Death is a Doorway (Easter message)

According to the latest research, the death rate in Pierce County is alarming -- 100%!
In fact, the death rate worldwide continues to shock us: despite medical advances and scientific what-not, mortality remains at a steady 100%.

On Bible Jazz this week, hospice chaplain Fred Grewe highlighted that the majority of the world's population is far better acquainted with death than we in the developed western world.  Most people do not go to sleep at night feeling like tomorrow is a guarantee.  But the Covid-19 pandemic brought our mortality to the front and center of everyone's mind.

And we cannot appreciate the good news of Jesus' resurrection without facing our mortality.  Moreover, we must face our need for forgiveness, despite even our best efforts.  For no one is without sin; all have fallen short of God's glory.

This is why Jesus' prayer on the cross is still so radical: "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing."  Jesus is willing to forgive even those causing his unjust death.  And worse, shaming him in the process.

Death terrifies us at the most fundamental level.  We simply do not know how to conceive of the idea of "not existing."  The good news is that your non-existence has never been God's will.  Rather, in Christ there will never be a day when you do not exist!

Death is a doorway to new life.  But not on my terms.  Not on your terms.  

In Luke 23:32-43, the first man on the cross tells Jesus to "save us."  But on whose terms?  Surely what that man envisioned was a "heaven" of his own making.  A "heaven" that fit his expectations.  The second man on the cross knew better, and instead asked Jesus: "Remember me when you come into YOUR kingdom."   

If heaven were to match each of our individual kingdoms, we'd be right back where we are now!  Disunified, separate, and alone.  What we call "paradise" is God's gift to us, not our gift to ourselves based on our imaginations.  God is the one who gives beyond what we can ask or even imagine (see Ephesians 3).  And the good news is that if Jesus is willing to forgive his persecutors, and he is willing to forgive a criminal who has done nothing to deserve mercy, then Jesus is also willing to forgive you. 

But God will never force his kingdom upon you, or anyone.  Love is only love when it is freely received.  So Easter is an invitation to each of us: Will you receive God's love and forgiveness in Christ, and his promise of eternal life?  If your answer is yes, and you need some guidance, here is what you can do.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Living God, I have heard that Jesus rose from the dead and lives today
in your kingdom.  
I have heard that you are willing to forgive me.
God, I am sorry for what I have thought, said, or done
By choice, or by chance,
That has held me back from you, or been destructive in my life and the world.
Please forgive me in Jesus' name.
And having been forgiven, I invite your Holy Spirit into my mind, heart, and life,
So that I can live a new life, not for my own glory but for yours.
Thank you for this gift in Jesus, and for saving me.
In His name, Amen.

If you have prayed this prayer, for the first time or again afresh,
it is important that you share that news with someone.
Pastors Aaron and Mike are eager to hear from you and walk with you  in your next steps of faith and life with Jesus.  Please don't hesitate to be in touch:
[email protected]
[email protected]

May you know God's forgiveness and new life this Resurrection Day!

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