Summary: Two Woman die, one famous, one faithful... which will stand?
† In Jesus Name †
Grace, mercy and peace are yours, gifts from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Two lives, two women, radically different, one lived in fame, and in the spot light, the other lived in a small forgotten country in Northern Europe. The first life in the spot light, full of glamour and fame, attracted wealth, that life, plastered all over magazines, and for the last two weeks, all over the news, and entertainment show. The pictures showed a depressed, troubled, and even tormented lady, who either seemed depressed as deeply as any I have seen, or drugged out of conscious reality, avoiding that which she could not deal with. Of the second life, I have seen one picture, that of a smiling, joy-filled lady, sitting in her barn, next to her sister, surrounded by a new litter of cats.
Two lives, two women, but they share a similar incident. Both lives, as doctors consider it, have ended – Anna Nicole Smith’s a few weeks ago, Tulli’s on Thursday evening in Finland. Though Anna Nicole had all that the world pursues, wealth, fame, more men chasing her and giving her gifts than can be documented in a week of television shows – she lacked something that Tuuli had. Peace.
And even in death, Anna Nicole can’t even be laid to rest and peace, without a circus of litigants, people fighting over a lifeless body. Even at her “funeral”, the fights and insults continue. More threats of more law suits, she continues to dominate the news. For someone who had so much, the shows someone who could not find peace, even in death. We don’t really admire her, but indeed, with society’s fascination growing, I have grown to pity her. In comparison, Pastor John said that Tuuli had gone peacefully, having talked to the nurses about her faith, and having prayed with them.
I really hate talking about death. I have been too close to it, too many times. As a hospital chaplain, when I was 22, working the ER at WestMed Center, Santa Ana – as a hospice chaplain, when we lived in Yucca Valley. Twice, I have come to dang close to it, and until I had my two valves replaced, the spectre of death loomed over me, as those valves where always in danger of disconnecting from the arteries they attached to the heart. My friends, I know what awaits us on the other side, and yet being there, as people have died before my eyes, and realizing how close I have come, I still struggle with discussing it, aside from a removed technical analysis of grief, and even how to minister to those in the midst of it.
About the only thing I do not mind about talking about, when it comes to death, is the way in which those who know Christ, who know God’s love, are able to stand firm in their faith, even as it approaches. It is that standing firm in the midst of all the harsh challenge of death, that shows me that God is with us, in the valley of the shadow of death, and in those places of life, where death might even be preferable.
Today’s epistle describes an option for living life, an option manifested in the two lives I mentioned before. The first, is to stand firm in Christ, knowing and embracing His cross, and what it means. The second option, may seem to give a better life, according to this world’s standards, but lacks the very grace, mercy, and yes peace, that makes life a joy to live, even as we endure hardship, and stare death in the face.
The option to standing firm
A Case of Idolatry
Glory in their shame?
Let’s start with the worldly way of living, the kind of life we so vividly demonstrated on our televisions for the last 2 weeks. The Apostle Paul gets pretty blunt describing their lives, their belief systems, look at
18For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.
It is interesting, that Paul does not talk of these people, who oppose Jesus and His work on the cross, with anger or hatred. These people whom he had talked of before, who now have changed their ways from those of the disciples, Paul describes with the same kind of loss, the same kind of sorrow, that you have when a best friend, or a close family member dies. The phrase translated “even with tears”, is the phrase used for the kind of wordless wailing or moaning that accompanies severe grief.