Easter is so much more than learning how to face death without fear, with courage and dignity. After all, even philosophers, poets, and scientists can do that. I remember the astronomer Carl Sagan mention in an interview that he was looking forward to death as “the last great adventure.” Walt Whitman, who wrote a beautiful poem upon the death of Lincoln entitled, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” wrestled with the thought of death in his verses. In the end, he decided that all we can do is embrace it like a friend: “Come, sweet, soothing death. Undulate around me, arriving, arriving..” His contemporary, the poet William Cullen Bryant wrote what some have called the most beautiful American poem, “Thanatopsis,” (which is Greek for “A View of Death”). And what was his view of death? In beautiful, flowing verse with elegant words, his bottom line was that the best we can hope for is that our body, placed in the earth, will by its decay help some other form of life spring forth. Our death helps produce life.
I’m sorry. No matter how elegant the language, that message is depressing. God has so much more planned for us that merely to be fertilizer for ferns. That doesn’t dignify human beings. Jesus, however, gives us the highest dignity; he rose from death as our REDEEMER TO GIVE YOU ETERNAL VICTORY.
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