Faith + resurrection

This is an e-mail message I received recently from an American Brother in my congregation which I reproduce here with his permission. I think it is a moving, hope-filled reflection on death and resurrection: not particularly Christmas-y, but I felt it would be good to share it:

Dear relatives, confreres, friends:

About a week ago I got news that Jordan, a grandson of my (departed) sister Denise, had died in uniform in Iraq, aged only twenty! The grief of his family, my nephew and his wife and daughter can only be imagined. I wish I could give them some real consolation.

This morning about 3 o’clock, my confreres Brother Roland Vigeant, only a year and two months older than I, died from cancer. Only a year and a half ago he was his usual vigorous self. Until about two years ago, like every preceding year, he had gone skiing at Mont-Tremblant in the province of Quebec, Canada. He would also go skating almost every week at a local rink. He also liked to amble around on a bike, and was a dedicated aficionado of opera music and other classical music. He was appreciated and loved by his colleagues especially in the Education Department, and by countless students who had been taught or helped over his many decades in Ohio.

And suddenly, he is gone! On his death-bed he had no doubt that he was going to be with the Lord. Indeed he was impatient to be with the Lord. How do I understand this “going to be with the Lord”?

I have no doubts at all that we are all called to live in that beyond-imagining peace that only God can give.

Many people say that we “go to” Heaven. That is not any location in our three-dimensional world, but where Jesus “went” at his Resurrection, to the fullness of life where “God wipes away all tears” as the Book of Revelation says. Not a mere resuscitation (like Lazarus in John’s gospel), not a re-incarnation. But what about our own final resurrection to this deathless and endlessly fascinating Life?

Saint Paul taught clearly (check it up in Romans 8:18 to 23) that both the created world and we await (and groan because so much goes wrong) for the time when not only we shall be resurrected to new life but the whole created world also.

This was the faith of all the first Christians, and for centuries afterwards. That renewed world will no longer be subject to “decay” (to the law of Entropy, as scientists would call it), or to suffering or death. I know this is beyond imagining, but not beyond God’s power and God’s incredible imagination. And so the first Christians prayed, not that we might “go to” Heaven (as if this world was to be abandoned on the eternal junk heap) but rather that God’s kingdom may come, come here in the created world, by remaking it totally new: the same world which we are called to improve, now made a fitting home for us in our resurrected selves.

Since this is the true Christian faith, I am positively excited about all this. And God is very willing and ready to forgive us all, not just Christians. And what of those who do not believe in the good news that Christ came to teach us? Let them ask God for the gift of faith and they will not be disappointed.

Please forgive this overlong letter. This is what I fully believe and trust and expect. I expect to find you all there on the Last Day.


Brother Ernest.
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