Practical Application of the Word of God
When someone we love and cherish dies, we grieve and mourn their deaths. Part of the process of mourning (at least in a collective sense, because our private mourning, in many ways, never ends – it changes over time, but it’s a permanent part of who we are), is the funeral/memorial service that is common after someone dies.
If someone close to you has died, I want you to take some time and remember in detail – this will be painful, but it’s necessary – what you experienced, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually, immediately after their deaths, including their funerals/memorial services.
Did you celebrate? Did you laugh and joke? Was the tenor upbeat and happy?
Or did you quietly and reflectively mourn? Did you shed tears with a heavy heart? Was the tenor sober and meditative?
For me personally, these have been times of somber, poignant reflection, accompanied by tears of sadness, loss, and sorrow, and the quiet hope of the resurrection (which is also part of what the Passover anticipates as we enter into the Days of Unleavened Bread the next evening, and the fulfillment of the wave sheaf offering by the resurrected Jesus Christ on the Sunday after the Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread) and the coming fulfillment of the promise of Revelation 21:3-4.
The somber, poignant reflection and the tears of sadness, loss, and sorrow are, for me, the product of self-examination: my regrets over the course of my time with these people I loved completely and fiercely, but too many times didn’t demonstrate that in my words and actions – those I said and did and wish I could have unsaid and undone or, even more painful, those I didn’t say and didn’t do when I could have and should have; my desire to, since I can’t undo what is in the past, change my words and my behavior; and, my active path going forward to become a better version of myself.
The accompanying quiet hope of the resurrection and the coming fulfillment of the promise of Revelation 21:3-4 is my solace from God that, through Jesus Christ, He will perfect that which concerns me (and every other human being ever created).
For me, this scenario occurs each year on the anniversary of the deaths of the people I loved more than my own life, with deeper reflection, better understanding, and more hope. Those anniversaries are sobering memorials, nonetheless.
They are not celebrations. They, instead, are active and interactive somber internal inventories: where was I then, where am I now, and where should I – and do I want to – be?
How much more then should this be reflected in me – and in us in the ekklesia – as we memoralize the death of Jesus Christ, our Passover, each year at the Passover?
Perhaps the trend toward celebration (the use of the word “celebrate” has become more common in the past few years – this article, written by a funeral home director, gives some good insights into how, in the United States, the very nature of funerals/memorials has changed, not for the better, with the Baby Boom Generation replacing the Silent Generation as society’s elders) of the Passover is a red-flag warning about our diminished level of intimacy and closeness with God and with Jesus Christ.
Perhaps, too, it reflects the general trend of the western world in its aversion to dealing with death altogether.
Unlike even a couple of generations back from mine (I am a member of Generation X), when death was part of the natural and inevitable rhythm of life and loved ones faded from terminal illness or old age into death at home under the loving care of their families, today death is removed as far as possible away from most of us actually experiencing it in an up-close and personal way.
Society itself has, in the last two generations, purposefully tried to put death off its radar completely.
As a result, we generally ignore its inevitability and don’t responsibly plan for it via advanced directives and wills or trusts.
With the eager and profit-seeking complicity of medical professionals and pharmaceutical companies, we generally try cheat death by artificially prolonging the quantity of life, sacrificing the quality of life in the process.
The elderly and the sick, more often than not, go away to nursing homes or hospitals to languish and die.
This gradual removal of death from our everyday lives and experiences has not only numbed our reactions and responses to it in general – we may react strongly to the deaths of people we personally know or to whom we have an intangible connection (like artists, writers, and musicians), but the grief is momentary and passing – but it has disconnected us from the stinging and painful reality of the death of our Savior.
It was very sadly telling of just how far we in the ekklesia have strayed from righteousness and faithfulness to God – putting Him and Jesus Christ first in everything and seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness as the priority in our lives – when this year, on social media, we saw the outpouring of grief among many in the ekklesia, a few hours before the annual Passover memorial service, about the death of Prince (a very talented musician instrumentally, but a purveyor of smut lyrically), while virtually ignoring the anniversary of the death of our Savior and our Passover.
It would be instructive to go back and review the last Passover that Jesus Christ observed with His disciples, as well as the first Passover recorded in Exodus 12.
Were they celebrations? What was the tenor of those Passovers?
In the New Testament, consider all the annual Passovers observed after Christ’s death.
At least 120 – and likely, in the early years of the ekklesia, many, many more (remember the 3,000 who repented and were baptized on the day of Pentecost just 54 days after the sacrifice of Jesus Christ) – were eyewitnesses to the crucifixion of Christ.
As each anniversary of the memorial came around, what do you think the tenor of those observances was?
Should yours and should mine, knowing that Jesus Christ, our Older Brother, died to pay the debt for your sins and my sins, be any different from theirs?
Regrettably, it seems that we in the ekklesia are too much in this world around us and it has become apparent our relationships to God and Jesus Christ, which are shown by what we do and how we do it with regard to obeying them (this includes God’s holy times, one of which is the Passover).
For me, this makes Christ’s command to me – and us in the ekklesia – to “Come out of her, My people” even more personal and more urgent.
What about you?