LIFE AND DEATH… AND A LOVING GOD

“That’s life.”

“What’s life?”

“Life’s a magazine.”

“How much does it cost?”

“$1.95”

“But, I don’t have $1.95”

“That’s life.”

 

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A Guest Blog by Deacon Jerry Schiffer

 

Life.

And Death.

Eternal companions on this earthly walk.

Earthly companions on this eternal walk.

Companions that my wife Kathy and I encountered on a recent trip to Savannah, Ga.—on a trip orchestrated to salve two spirits who were too tired of a too long, too cold, and too oppressive winter.

“Let’s go South,” we said. “If we can’t find sun in Michigan by the end of March, by gum, then we’ll find it in South Carolina and Georgia. It’s Spring down there, you know. Heck it’s almost Summer!”

Hah! Someone should have told the weatherman. Seven days in a row of rain and a temperature that on one day, at least, managed to creep all the way up to 62°. That sound you’re hearing is me ripping up my Georgia travel brochures. But I digress. Weather isn’t everything.

As we worked our way south, we may not have seen (or felt) much of the sun, but we did witness its influence on the flora and fauna of the hills and flatlands of Dixie. It wasn’t too long before we encountered the first buds of new life on the trees and could hear the songs of winged creatures not yet brave enough to seek out the comforts (?) of a northern birdhouse.

Savannah itself was a comfort–even in the rain. For those who haven’t yet had the pleasure, Savannah is a grand old Southern town that has preserved much of the warmth and character of its 18th and 19th century personalities. On the day that we arrived, it showed off some of its finery through the windows of a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool(…er, cotton) tour bus, which protected us from the rain outside while soaking us in Savannahan history and culture on the inside. There were cherished parks, notable churches and buildings, and, literally at every turn, signs of new life. Flowers were actually in bloom; birds were singing; and trees sported colors other than winter gray.

And yet, a popular feature of the tour was the Colonial Park Cemetery which coddles the bones of ancient Savannahians who rest beneath appropriately ghoulish Spanish Moss that drapes the bent and gnarly branches of Live Oak trees. It was also suggested that we not leave town without first booking passage on the nightly Ghosts and Gravestones Tour, which introduced the more gullible among us to the spirits that regularly haunt the more paranormal neighborhoods and homes of Savannah.

Death and Life.  Life and Death.

These existential siblings were also to be temporary companions on our trip back to Michigan through the hills and valleys of Eastern Kentucky coal country. Driving north on US-23, we spotted several farms that had made provisions for friends and relatives who no longer cared when Spring might arrive. Near some of the homes  (immediately outside the front door of one of them) were family cemeteries, many carefully groomed and flowered, some with one or two graves, others with several tombstones standing guard over their departed masters

In a very real sense, Life and Death shared the same space in those old Kentucky homesteads.

Life and Death. Death and Life.

While we’re at it, we ought to reflect on the spiritual realities of Life and Death as well. There perhaps can be no better week to consider these soul mates than this most holy week in the Christian calendar.

This week we celebrate the enormous reality that Jesus, the Son of God, took on new life so that He could die for us, and then rise from that death so that all of us who were dead in sin could live in Him. As mind boggling as that is, it ultimately gives meaning to every other question of Life and Death that we will ever encounter.

It is God’s merciful love for us that we should celebrate this Easter season. And as we look for signs of Spring and new life, let us look first to our life-giving Savior, whose gift to us of eternal life makes every day look like Spring, regardless of the weather.


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