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OPEN: Years ago the producers of Sesame Street faced a dilemma. Will Lee, the actor who played Mr. Hooper, passed away, and the producers were faced with how to communicate the concept of death to the 10 million children (most of whom are under 6 years of age) who watched the show.

Child psychologists suggested they NOT say, “Mr. Hooper got sick and died,” because children get sick and they are not going to die.

And the psychologists suggested they NOT say, “Mr. Hooper got old and died,” because little children think of their parents as being old.

And the staff of Sesame Street decided to avoid religious issues (it was on PBS, remember) and NOT say, “Mr. Hooper died and went to Heaven.”

So the show’s producers decided to say just a few basics: He’s gone, he won’t be back, and he’ll be missed. And they decided to use Big Bird to gently set the matter before the children. The show was aired on Thanksgiving Day so parents could watch it with their children.

Big Bird came out and said he had a picture for Mr. Hooper and he couldn’t wait to see him.

One of the cast said, “Big Bird, remember, we told you that Mr. Hooper died.”

And Big Bird said, “Oh yeah, I forgot.” Then he said, “Well, I’ll give it to him when he comes back.”

And one of the staff members put an arm around Big Bird and said, “Big Bird, Mr. Hooper isn’t coming back.”

“Why not,” Big Bird asked innocently.

“Big Bird, when people die, they don’t come back.”

(Brian Jones – Standard Publishing Illustrations)

When people die... they don’t come back.

Normally, that’s how it works, and it bothers a lot of folks.

Sigmund Freud famously said: “And finally there is the painful riddle of death, for which no remedy at all has yet been found, nor probably will ever be!”

Others have echoed that “truth”.

Aristotle called death the thing to be feared most because "it appears to be the end of everything."

Jean-Paul Sartre asserted that death "removes all meaning from life."

And French philosopher Francois Rabelais (as he was dying) said: "I am going to the great Perhaps.”

That brings us to our text for this morning.

People have always struggled with the concept of death.

I’m told someone did a survey and found that 1 out of every 1 persons… dies.

Everybody dies.

And they generally STAY that way.

That’s kinda how it works.

Now here we have 2 men walking from Jerusalem to their home town of Emmaus.

They’ve seen the tragedy that took place in Jerusalem as it unfolded before their eyes. Jesus was arrested, tried, beaten, spat on, insulted, and ultimately they saw Him die a cruel death on a cross.

But they’d also heard the women tell of finding the tomb empty and hearing angels say He’d risen from the dead.

You’d think they’d have been encouraged.

You’d think they’d believe Jesus had risen from the dead


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