It started with a podcast.
With a fair bit of time in the car over the last week and a couple of late night walks, I’ve been delving into the podcasts, and one of the first suggestions I got was the Mystery Show. Shows like this are the perfect reminder that a story, well told, can be about almost anything. I listened to an episode that was all about tracking down the owner of a belt buckle that was lost 20 years ago. It sounds as dull as dull, but I enjoyed every second of it & even felt a teensy bit misty eyed at the end (you’ll have to listen to it yourself to see why!)! Starlee Kine does a wonderful job at taking those everyday little mysteries (on the way home from a wedding yesterday, it was how tall is Jake Gyllenhaal? could that really be entertaining? Yep, it was awesome!) and deconstructing them in a magical way.
So this all got me thinking.
I took a funeral last week, and, with mysteries floating around in my head, I spoke about it a little during the funeral. Not the podcast (that would be a little weird), but the idea of mystery. One of the reasons I think it’s become so popular to say of funerals “it’s not about mourning their death, it’s just a celebration of their life”, is because people feel fearful/anxious about the sense of mystery that comes with death. It’s seen as the great unknown. We’ve lost someone and we don’t know what is in store for them, or what it means for them to have died. We see a little of this tension played out in the fact that, no matter how staunch people are as atheists in the everyday, inevitably, they tend to get caught up in “I know X is looking down on us today” rhetoric when speaking of death.
We feel the tension. We don’t like the anxiety.
I shared last week, that God doesn’t want us to feel that fear/anxiety, and there’s an answer to it.
This Thursday, I head down to Sydney to attend the funeral of a member of my congregation and former Sydney Bishop, John Reid. He was a great man, humble, honest, friendly and very intelligent. I have no doubt that I’ll hear some amazing eulogies about a truly lovely guy, but what makes me look forward to his funeral is not that I’ll get to hear people wax lyrical about him, not that his many accomplishments make for a nice hagiography, but that he was confident that he knew that God had revealed the greatest of all mysteries to him. John knew that God himself had taken on human flesh, had lived a sinless life, took the penalty for John’s sins when he died on the cross, and then rose to life three days later, robbing death of its sting, and offering an answer to the mystery “what will happen to me when I die?”
John knew that nothing that will be said about him at his funeral will be the reason why God welcomes him into heaven. He rested wholly and solely on the person and work of Jesus Christ. The veil had been lifted, the mystery solved.
Though I’ll certainly miss his presence (and occasional constructive criticism) in the meantime, John was confident, as I am, that he has gone to be with God, and that we’ll be reintroduced one day in the future.