Death has been good to me.
It has been a teacher of faith, and I have (mostly) been a willing student. Though confident more lessons will come—some potentially harder than I can imagine—I remain grateful for my encounters with death.
Did we discuss dying and death and how they’d impact a pastor back in the by-gone days of seminary? Not much. There were, inevitably, arguments over Jesus’ death. But that was theological, a contemplation of differences in the Gospels, and in the whys and hows of myriad Christian traditions. Death was abstract. Odd, though (or maybe not) that I recollect one other glimpse of death when recalling seminary days. A student named Jim died by suicide. He was there for a few semesters. We played chess. Probably discussed Rudolph Bultmann. Possibly shared a beer. He drifted through a few semesters and then died by his own hand.
No one talked about it.
We knew nothing in seminary.
There have been numerous deaths that mattered personally to me in my profession. I’ll mention three, since who has the inclination to read about a thousand funerals? Truthfully, that number is an exaggeration! Except that anyone who has been in ministry for over forty years has witnessed—in literal and figurative graveyards, in hospitals, in living rooms with rearranged furniture, in humbled or trembling or arrogant hearts—a considerable amount of . . . Continue reading →