So farewell to Princess Leia and George Michael - one heroine taken and one taken Heroin: More grist to the mill for those who are bemoaning 2016 as a tragic year of celebrity loss. Add to this Richard Adams, the author of Watership Down at 96 and I'm sure there's enough material for another sermon there!
Life appears to be a lot like a scale - stuff is added and taken from pan of life and the balance is lost. People stick stuff into their bodies and live for themselves and th it own pleasures and desires and then the world are called on to act surprised when eventually the pan stop is hit and life stops with it!
Thoday was a day off so I only had a handful of conversations and concerns to deal with, but they are all (fittingly) 'interesting'. The funerals closed in a bit more yesterday but no one will be writing or talking about the deceased I'm dealing with - and yet they should. People who have stories and history and lived during a time in our nation's 'darkest hours' - and not only survived but carried on and made life, love and endeavour theirs. 'carpe diem' is a great epithet to live by - but it should have as a caveat: "But don't seize the wrong stuff and stick it in your bodies!' and "Live for more than yourself and the desires that lead to death!"
The problem is that people get a bit uptight when we allude to, or better still talk directly, about 'bad habits' and lifestyle. They ask who gives us the right to pass judgment when, perhaps ironically, that is the rule and practice by which the questioner themselves lives by. We are asked to note the tragic end of some lives and to pray for the repose of their souls, because that is what God would have us do, and I do that with a sense that the ledger is closed and the trip to the audit officer (AKA God) is in the appointments book and all is done. I don't see Jesus waking the dead up and offering them a subscription to heaven as a last kindly act (for where in that does the Hebrews 9, "Live one, then die and then be judged," bit fit in? Neither do I see heaven populated buy everyone as Jesus returns and cries 'ho,ho, ho' as he opens His sack to reveal everyone is in the 'nice' list.
A critic on the radio spoke of a recently deceased 'star' using the words, "They lived life to the full and took everything out of the world that they could', sadly though at the end of their life all that the world provided will be left in the world, for no one takes it with them!
And the treasures and beautiful things that could have been stored up in heaven, where were they used and how did they poses the person who perhaps thought they possessed them instead?
Lord, we pass this way but once - help us to journey well and to put our treasures in the heavenly places and our energies in those around us - to struggle and contend against that (and those) who stand against the love, life and light of the true God.
Help us to comfort those who mourn and to speak the truth in truth and love - to eschew campaigns and instead take up our Bibles; to gently correct rather than loudly applaud that error might be addressed and salvation taken up; to win people for Christ rather than seek to be popular ourselves.
Lord, this day has done its stuff and the sun has moved on to our 'brethren 'neath the Western sky'; tomorrow beckons and there will be sin, pain, loss and triumph too. Help me to bless what you are doing - to correct what others are doing - and to ensure that what I am doing looks and smells like you.
Thank you for all that we have and are and can be.