Confronting our mortality

As you may have noticed, I’ve been writing a lot about death and resurrection these days.  There are, of course, practical reasons for this: on Sunday mornings, I’ve been teaching my way slowly through 1 Corinthians 15; in both Pasadena and Phoenix, I’ve been lecturing to seminary students on resurrection and Christian hope.

But then there are the personal reasons.  Earlier this week, I attended a memorial service for one of my students.  He had been confined to a wheelchair by a debilitating, hereditary disease.  But he came to seminary with a vision of helping others, particularly families with chronically ill members.  He faced his own suffering with courage; many who spoke at the memorial praised him for his sensitive and caring heart.  Indeed, he preferred hearing how others were doing to talking about how he was doing.

At the memorial, I got to see a picture of him in robust health, in the days before the disease took hold.  It helps me to imagine him out of his wheelchair, enjoying his freedom, and eventually being blessed with a gloriously new resurrection body.  The image, even though cloudy, makes me smile.

Somehow, it’s easier to think such thoughts about those whose bodies have betrayed them.  The older I get, the more I find myself confronted by my own mortality, and my thoughts drift in the direction of resurrection.  But not always.  Some days are better, some days are busier — and resurrection may not enter my mind for even a moment.

Does it make a difference?  As we’ll see in later posts, it certainly made a difference to Paul.  Resurrection is the foundation of our hope as Christians.  Do we need hope in our daily lives?  Or do we simply substitute other hopes?

It’s becoming more real to me, bit by bit.

But I’m not there yet.