Teach Us How to Die

Along with other members of my family I faced termination of treatment issues not long ago after my brother suffered a traumatic injury at the end of a long battle with cancer. It was not easy to make those decisions, even though he had left an advanced directive. Nor was it at all easy to watch him die. But they were experiences thread through with a sense of deep dependence upon God. As the Apostle Paul puts it, "Whether we live or we die, we belong to Christ."

In the final analysis, what Lord Carey and Archbishop Tutu didn't say was the biggest problem with their issued statements. They did little to point us back to God in those fateful, final moments of our lives. Instead, they focused where the larger culture does: on managing those moments and limiting pain -– on the preservation of our dignity, but not on the Christian's enduring faith in the power of the Resurrection.

Dear bishops, we all die. Not all of us can avoid pain. Teach us how to die as the children of God.

8/11/2014 4:00:00 AM
  • Progressive Christian
  • The Spiritual Landscape
  • Death
  • assisted suicide
  • Progressive Christianity
  • Suicide
  • Christianity
  • Frederick Schmidt
    About Frederick Schmidt
    Frederick W. Schmidt is the author of The Dave Test: A Raw Look at Real Life in Hard Times (Abingdon Press: 2013) and several other books, including A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005) and Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009). He holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Job Institute for Spiritual formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and Consulting Editor at Church Publishing in New York. He and his wife, Natalie live in Chicago, Illinois. He can also be reached at: http://frederickwschmidt.com/
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