If there is one thing we are afraid of it is death. You can’t help but notice it. We want to live forever. That’s what medical advertisements and the pharmaceutical industry say to us each day. You can and should want to live forever with the quality of life you have come to know and expect as “normative” at this moment. You should never have to live with any degree of diminished capacity in an assisted living facility or hospital. Those places are places of death. That is this message we received. The fear of death is further compounded, glorified, and commercialized through the celebration of this thing we call “Halloween”. Scare me to the point of death, dress yourself in something scary (yet provocative), unleash your deepest fears and anxieties about death for one night. We then justify all of this psychological and pent-up emotional weirdness in the name of “the children” having fun and getting candy. Because when it’s about the kids having fun, who can really mock the adults for only remembering what’s like to be frightened? After all, how will our children learn to be frightened of death and carry on these bizarre rituals unless we teach them that death stalks in these colder months with shorter days? Yes, we’re afraid of death and we’ve made it into a celebration. We’ve allowed “Big Death” to become an industry that rivals its subsidiaries Big Oil and Big Pharma.
My point is this: we don’t have to be afraid of death. We choose to be. We don’t have to buy into the fear laced, Ebola laden, Halloween infused, these side-effects might kill you propaganda trying to convince us that death is the only undeniable reality of the human condition. When people accept such propaganda as truth, hope is eroded faster than the sands of the beaches that surround this island. Hopelessness is the living legacy of people who’ve bought into fear as a way of life. There is another reality; one that transcends death itself. There is a reality which is rooted in hope. It goes something like this: death need not be feared because death is not final. It’s a promise, made to us by those saints who have gone before us. It’s what scripture says.
Do I understand the physics and mathematics of that promise? Do I want to? Do I need to? No. For one, I believe the promise. With each sunrise and sunset I see on this island the reality of God’s presence beyond this finite realm becomes clearer each day. Secondly, my work is here, not there. I’m not working for a ticket out of here. I’m working so when I’m asked, “did you feed me, clothe me, and visit me in prison?” I can say yes. Let Jesus worry about getting us “up there”. Our work is here. Our preoccupation is not to be with what will get is to the afterlife. When we get so preoccupied with talking about the afterlife, the rapture, and whose left behind it’s like we’re second guessing the work Jesus has done. Christ doesn’t call us to hunker down in apocalypse bunkers feeding on each other’s negativity and hopelessness. We are called to be outside, on the front-lines, modeling our hope for everyone to see.