March 24, 2008

Nascar and Norman Greenbaum

Great thoughts from Pastor Beecroft on death, life, and the resurrection of Jesus in his Easter sermon. Here's an excerpt:

The secular world says there is nothing else. There is only freedom in this life to choose a way that you find meaningful and significant and then there is death. This is the only world we know and this is the only life we experience so it is up to us to make it as rich and as happy as possible. Life ends with death. This may be unpleasant, but it is natural, and the best you can do is accept it and try not to think about it. Stay busy. Distract yourself. Try to build a world around you that gives pleasure and satisfaction. After everything, there is only death. The secular world rejects the resurrection of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ rejects the secular world. 

Religions say there is something else after life, something more. So they try to help us come to terms with death, offering us pills of banality so we can cope with it. Religions suggest death liberates us to live in some disembodied state in some ethereal other world. Religion promises comfort in the fact that death is inevitable and normal, always trying to reconcile the human person with death. Religion and spirituality is not concerned with truth or history as much as it is merely another human effort to prepare for death. Religions theologian is Norman Greenbaum, who promises that we all just go on up to the spirit in the sky, that’s where we are gonna go when we die. Then we can enjoy endless golf, Nascar, beer, 70 virgins or whatever else entertained us in this tragic life. Such man-made religion rejects the resurrection of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ rejects it. 

Jesus Christ rejects religion, secularism, and all human efforts in the face of death because they want to give death a status, make it normal and acceptable. Jesus Christ, however, rejects death. Christianity proclaims death to be abnormal and, therefore, truly horrible. Jesus responded to the death of Lazarus by weeping not because He was sad and helpless, but because sin and death had intruded on Lazarus’ humanity. Jesus refused to acknowledge death and comes to term with it. Death is not normal and natural. Death is the result of sin and so death invades our humanity, the pinnacle of God’s creation. There is nothing acceptable about it. For Christ, death appears as something foreign, as unnatural, as alien, as fearsome and perverted, and it is acknowledged as an enemy. In the words of St. Paul, “The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” This is why Jesus, the Son of God, was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and buried. He came to take away our sin and destroy death forever by His own death and resurrection! Jesus Christ is the Resurrection and the Life; sin and death wilt before Him. The world and religion cannot contend with the Risen Christ! 

You can read the rest here.

1 comment:

Mason said...

Schmemann deserves all the credit! I shamelessly summarized and snagged the thought and language from his booklet, "O death, where is thy sting?"

I wish I was that smart and insightful. I am merely clever enough to know where to find the good stuff and appropriate it for the sake of the congregation!
Blessed Easter,