Apr
13

Maundy Thursday, 2017

By

A year ago today I was in my office when the phone rang. It was Cassie, one of the nurses from Scotland County Care Center. My dad had been under hospice care for some time and had developed pneumonia. Cassie shared that my dad had taken a downward turn and that we should begin to prepare ourselves for his passing.

“Should I come now?” I asked.
She said, “Not yet. The doctor is on his way and he’ll do an evaluation and I’ll call you back in a few minutes and give you a status update.”
“Ok,” I replied.

Within the hour Cassie called me back. I was expecting her to give me a status report accompanied by some form of time line. She simply said, “Your dad just passed. I’m so sorry.” She felt badly that she had created an expectation that she could not deliver. I told her it was ok, but instantly was deeply saddened that like Jesus, my dad died alone.

After I hung up I called my sister and my mother and began to make preparations to travel to Missouri, where arrangements would need to be finalized and a funeral sermon prepared.

I find it strange that even though I knew my dad’s death was imminent I was still largely surprised that he passed. I knew it was coming, but it still hit me in an unexpected way, like a driver that violates a traffic signal and plows into the side of a car in the middle of an intersection.

I also find it strange that I seem to think about and talk about my father more in this past year than ever before. I try to be careful about referencing him in conversations and even my sermons, but I can’t seem to help it. His words and actions that previously resided in the back of my mind are now in the forefront of my thoughts.

When I think about the death of my father it makes me wonder if the disciples had the same kind of feeling regarding the death of Jesus. They knew he was going to die. The Old Testament prophets had predicted it for centuries. Jesus himself told them of his pending death on three separate occasions. They knew that it was coming, but I can’t help but think that his actual death must have hit them a little by surprise.

When I think about the disciples and the death of Christ, I also can’t help but consider the fact that they talked far more about him after his death that before. They often retell his life story and quote him frequently. I’m sure there were moments of reflection where memories were shared and stories retold. Some of those stories were humorous that brought smiles and even laughter. Others were told with deep meaning and conviction, as though those stories transformed their lives.

Before Jesus died, you get the idea that the disciples heard it, but didn’t quite get it. But when the reality of Jesus’ death sank in, they got it. And when they got it, they couldn’t stop talking about it either.

Death is a reality like no other. There are no approximations or misgivings about it. It’s frank and honest, and offers no consideration of our own thoughts and feelings. As believers in the 21st century we are blessed to have Holy Scripture to help us process Jesus death. We are not in the same position as the disciples who seemingly had to figure it out on their own. We can read and talk about the story in ways the disciples could not.

But that does not mean that we should speak of Jesus’ death any less than they did. It’s good for us to speak of Jesus in our day-to-day conversations as well as in our sermons and lessons. We can speak of him today as though he is still alive. Because he is!

Categories : Easter

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