Death, Dying, and Hope

josMonday evenings and Tuesday mornings a small group of us have gathered to talk about death, dying, and hope. In each session we’ve tackled a different topic–from what we were taught explicitly or implicitly about death as children to health care powers of attorney to saying good-bye to loved ones. Our first session, in particular, was powerful as we explored what it means to be “baptized into Christ’s death…so we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Throughout our spiritual journey, God invites us to die to sin, to all those things that separate us from God’s love. True life, as we Christians understand it, is the gift of walking closely alongside Jesus–facing pain honestly, loving one another relentlessly, celebrating the goodness of justice and the beauty of creation. During our earthly pilgrimage, we seek Jesus’ friendship, and as we find it (or are found by it), we experience eternal life right here, right now. I think this is the “newness of life” about which Paul speaks in the verse from Romans above.

Of course, throughout our lives we experience “little deaths”: the dissolution of a marriage or partnership, loss of a job, and other disappointments. Perhaps how we attend to these “little deaths” prepares us for how we might greet our own deaths. With each “little death,” God gives us the opportunity to accept disappointments and pain as essential, though uncomfortable, aspects of life’s richness, fertilizer for our spiritual growth.

While this series has been going on, St. Peter’s has lost four beloved parishioners: Sandy McPeek, Justin Baldwin, Diana Ison, and Jacqui Berry. Each person’s death is unique, sacred and mysterious, as is each person’s life. It is a privilege to bear witness with each you, even as we mourn, to our hope in resurrection.

– The Joslyn Ogden Schaefer, Associate Rector