Saturday, October 26, 2013

Daily Death

This sermon was given in August during a seminary orientation Eucharist on the feast day of Jeremy Taylor.

Make us,” O God, “like your servant Jeremy Taylor, deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of human life.” I actually take enjoyment of sharing good news of death with you all during this first week here. Death was a fond friend of Jeremy Taylor’s, at least, his legacy of books, writings, and collections of prayers point to his ever searching want and wisdom to work towards a holy death in Christ. The collect of the day reminds us to be deeply aware of the shortness and uncertainty of our lives, I am sure many of you feel this uncertainty right now. Paul in Romans points to the reality that if we are living in Christ, then our death will be in Christ, Christ is ruler over both the dead and the living, we cannot stray away from God. The Gospel of John points beyond all human death to eternal life in Christ. He reminds us that God loves each of us, so much so that God wants us all to live eternally with her. But as humans, the only way for us to have eternal life is to die.

I came to seminary straight out of college, at the ripe old age of 22. I have learned of death slowly, in the passing of plants, pets, eventually, some of my great grandparents and grandparents, tragic passings of my fellow high school and college students. But one of the many things I have learned here at seminary is that death does not only come with the ending of life. Death is fond of all of us and is with us every day. Everyday, a part of our selves die, especially as we learn new things and grow in new ways.

My hope is that you are excited and eager to learn and grow. But I hope that you also realize that parts of you are dying each day and it is necessary to be in mourning. You will mourn the loss of your community, your church, your job in your own way. The deaths you experience may seem to come all at once, or piecemeal, but they are unavoidable and different for each of us. I ask that you be kind to yourself and to everyone else here because we are all in various stages of dying, mourning, and being reborn. It is a hard and painful path to follow, but success is not your goal. Christ is your goal, every day you need to die and be born again in Christ, and while we do not know the path that will take us to Christ right now, we know with the Psalmist that God will show us the path of life.

In this midst of all the pain of dying and rising I want you to remember two things. The first, that like a seed that has fallen on good soil, parts of you need to die so that the rich nutrients of the soil around you can nourish you and help you to grow into the wondrous creature God has created you to be. And second, that I have and will continue to pray for you as you are reborn in Christ. As Episcopalians I hope you will return in your times of pain to the Prayer Book and find the prayer for those who mourn and wrap its promise of love and strength around you.

May you go with God in strength, in courage, in knowledge of the shortness and uncertainty of your life. Go with God prepared to die, for only in death can you rise to eternal life in Christ.