I read a great book called The Art of Dying, by Christianity Today editor Rob Moll. In the forward, by Lauren Winner, we read:
"We no longer allow people to say that they are dying – rather, they are “battling” an illness. Far from encouraging the perilously ill to recognize the imminence of their death, we encourage the sick (and their doctors) to fight death--but not to prepare for it. Some would say this evasion of death is an improvement. I would say our avoidance of death, far from being an advance, is false, costly, and alienating. We, the church, need to recover the art of dying. We need to allow dying Christians to be just that--dying Christians, who can rail against, but also prepare for, death. We need to make space for the exhausting, sad work of mourning.
"A pastor said once that his church didn’t have enough funerals. It was because his church was made up of largely younger people, so they didn’t have many funerals. That highlights an advantage to having a church made up of a variety of age groups. It’s an advantage, because funerals are not just an important milestone with the individual family involved, but they are important in the life of the whole fellowship. They’re important because the things we think about and remember during a funeral are important for our spiritual formation--our discipleship in Christ, our understanding of His grace, and His salvation.
"Our culture simply doesn’t know what to think about death. Through medicine and science we know more about death and how to forestall it than ever before. Yet we know very little about caring for a dying person. We don’t know what to expect or how to prepare for our own death. And we’re often awkward at best when trying to comfort a friend in grief. We have come to expect medical breakthroughs, vaccines and wonder-working drugs. It’s clear that our paradoxical approach to death is largely due to the fact that we are strangers to death--despite it being ever present.
(Source: Rob Moll. From a sermon by Bill Sullivan, Better By Far, 4/24/2011)
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