In the midst of life we are in death.
First, Sunday will be the day after Fr Lawrence Sipe’s funeral and Requiem. To die at the age of 61 is not exactly in the middle of life, but it feels young to those of us older than that – and also to many slightly younger.
Secondly, we have horrific pictures flooding in of carnage by the tsunami in Japan and the mad Hitler in Libya. The former has brought out the best in human nature, with rescuers flying and sailing in from all directions. But in Libya the massacres are treated with shameful inaction by the UN (to be expected) and the USA (sadly isolationist suddenly).
Thirdly, in the old calendar, Sunday’s Gospel is of the Transfiguration, the feast which is also kept on August 6, the day when the USA dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing many Japanese, but also saving the lives of many who were in Japanese prison camps and those who would have died in vast numbers had the war gone on.
After his mystical transfiguration on the mountain, Jesus predicted that, like Moses, he would have an Exodus, and that his would be to Jerusalem, where he would be crucified. But he added “and rise again” – and that is where my sermon will have to end.
Fr Sipe will rise again, as will the Japanese killed in 1945 or this month. The Libyans will rise again, as will all of us. And we will rise to face God’s judgement. If you and I knew we were going to die next week, what a spring-clean we might give our lives.
There is a corny Country and Western song called “Live like you were dying” which tells of a man who was told he had just months to live, and although I would not recommend that you try all that he did (sky-diving, Rocky Mountain climbing, two-point-seven seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu!) I would recommend that we make this Lent a time when we give time to others we love, forgive our enemies, be the loving persons God made us to be.
Well, I seem to have written the sermon!