Celebrating the Resurrection
Sermons, Outlines, Illustrations,
Meditations and Program Ideas
J. Michael Shannon & Robert C. Shannon
(c)opyright 1984, J. Michael Shannon
The later years of life are often called the Sunset
years; but they are, in fact, the Sunrise years. Since Jesus rose
from the dead, life faces east, not west. "Beyond the Sunset" is
a beautiful hymn; but we really ought to speak of beyond the sunrise.
Peter said we lived our lives "until the day dawn and the day-star arise
in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19).
Dr. Pedro Ara Sarria perfected
a technique for preserving the body and applied it to Argentina's Eva Peron.
The embalmed body was kept intact but, for political reasons, was moved
from place to place. It went from his laboratory in Buenos Aries
to a military camp, to a dusty storeroom in Bonn, Germany, to a secret
grave in Milan, Italy, to an attic in Madrid, back to a chapel in Argentina,
and finally to a family tomb. What happens to our bodies after we
die may not be very important. What happens to the spirit, the true
person, is very important. Whether our bodies are buried, cremated,
lost in an explosion, or buried at sea, it makes no difference. The
real concern is that the soul be at home with God.
It was Joseph Cook who said,
"Pillow my head on no guesses when I die." Paul spoke of our future
in the strongest possible terms. In 2 Corinthians 5:lff he says,
"We know." He doesn't say, "We think, we hope, we believe,
we trust, we expect" but "we know." Guesses are little comfort.
We want assurance, blessed assurance.
Matineua said, "We do not believe
in immortality because we can not prove it, but we try to prove it because
we cannot help believing in it." Emerson said, "When God wants to
carry a point with his children, He plants His arguments into the instincts."
Certainly, we have an instinct for immortality, an affinity for the infinite.
We feel certain there is more beyond this life. If there is not,
then our own nature has played on us a cruel joke. The risen Christ
assures us that our instincts are right
We wonder about the life of
the man whose epitaph read,
Don't bother me now
Most of us have not found that life is bad; and most of us want to live
for ever and ever. Through Christ, we are assured that we can do
Don't bother me never
I want to be dead
For ever and ever.
I heard the voice of Jesus say
I am this dark world's light
Look unto me thy morn shall rise
And all thy day be bright.
Robert MacNeil wrote, "I associate
different emotions with traveling toward the different points of the compass.
Going east is going back to where we all came from, toward the dawn; to
the west is escape, adventure, the pull of the sunset. Going south
brings an anticipation of languor, of being enfolded in limpid air.
But when I head north, my blood quickens - it takes a special people to
live where nature makes it so hard." Spiritually, we can all agree
that going east is going where all came from. Our spiritual fountainhead
is Easter Sunday, our spiritual source is the resurrection of Jesus.
All of the Christian religion flows from this single place.
Good Friday and the Saturday
before Easter are very special days in Greece. In every church, there
is a flower-bedecked picture to represent the bier of Christ. Four
soldiers stand guard on either corner throughout the night and day, from
Good Friday until Easter Sunday. The visitor often wonders if they
are there in a re-enactment of the soldiers guarding the tomb of Jesus.
If so, it would be exciting to see them faint as the real soldiers did
at the resurrection. One suspects, however, that it is rather an
honor guard. If so, it is a very nice symbol. Whatever our
symbols, dreams, and ceremonies, all of us agree that the best honor one
may pay to Christ is to believe in Him and to live for Him. Easter
is more than a celebration. It makes its demands upon us.
The late Queen Wilhelmina of
the Netherlands was a pious Christian, as was her husband Hendrik.
They had discussed death. Since both regarded it as the start of
a new life, they had promised each other that their funerals would not
be shrouded in black, but rather be completely white as a symbol of light.
Even the dress the Queen wore to Hendrik's funeral was white. It
is true that for the Christian, death is not darkness but light, not black
with despair, but bright with hope.
On Good Friday evening, each
Greek Orthodox church has a service. Afterward, the holy picture
that represents Christ, decorated with flowers and candles, is brought
to the village square. A solemn procession comes from each church;
and a brief service is held. Then, on Saturday night, a second service
is held. Just before midnight, the church is plunged into darkness.
Suddenly, one lighted candle appears in the sanctuary. The worshipers
light their own candles from it and pass on the fire to others. Bells
ring. Fireworks greet the resurrection. Each person carries
his light home. (Ought we all not carry the light of the resurrection
and the gospel into our daily lives?) Then, on Sunday morning, another
procession retraces the steps of the previous Friday night. This
time, it is no flower-covered coffin, but a picture of the risen Lord that
is carried. The music is joyful and triumphant. Christ is alive
forevermore! The parallels are obvious. With a dead Christ,
we are sad; and we live our lives in darkness. With a risen Christ,
we are joyful; and we live our lives in the light. It is a light
that cannot be kept at church but must be carried home. It is a light
that cannot be selfishly hoarded but must be shared with others.
On Good Friday in Athens, the
streetlights are turned off, some public buildings are draped in black,
and a slow-moving procession winds through the streets. At midnight,
on Easter Eve, a cannon booms from the top of Mt. Lycabettus, which towers
above the city. Thousands worshiping at the church of St. George
on the summit light their candles. Slowly they pass down the twisting
path from the summit to the city below. One can see thousands of
tiny pin points of light moving down the mountain and into the city.
So the truth of Easter must come down from the mountain of spiritual worship
and walk the streets of daily need.
Among the people from Eastern
Europe, the Easter basket had nothing to do with candy and rabbits.
Baskets were filled with symbolic things and taken to church to be blessed.
There was bread in the basket to recall how Israel relied on God in the
wilderness and to symbolize life. Horseradish was there to suggest
the bitterness of Egyptian bondage and the bitterness of Jesus death.
Salt was there as a symbol of our common humanity. Ham was there
as a reminder that we are not under the old law, which forbade so much,
but under the new. Eggs were in the basket, too. They stood
for hope and resurrection and life! Whatever our customs, whatever
our symbols, Easter always stands for new life, for resurrection, for hope!
Blandon Churchyard, where Winston
Churchill is buried, is like many similar village churchyards. There
is a lych-gate at the entrance. Here the bearers could wait with
the casket until the minister came out to escort them into the church.
If the weather were inclement, they had some shelter beneath the roof of
the lych-gate. Over the lych-gate at Blandon are these words, "I
know that my Redeemer liveth." One sees them, not upon entering,
but upon leaving! How comforting to a family who has just left the
body of a loved one in the churchyard! How comforting it is to us
all to remember we have a deathless Redeemer!
A man said that one year he
had two Easters. After the Easter celebration in America, he went
to Greece. In the Orthodox Church, Easter usually comes a week later
than the Catholic and Protestant Easter. So he enjoyed two Easter
Sundays. We were meant to enjoy fifty-two Easter Sundays! Every
Sunday, every first day of the week, commemorates the resurrection of Jesus
from the dead. It is not just one day a year. That would not
be enough. It is one day in every week! That's how important
the resurrection is!
There are many stories, sagas,
and legends that have in them the theme of death and resurrection.
That ought not to surprise us nor disturb us. Anything genuine is
bound to have its counterfeits. In fact, the presence of the counterfeit
reassures us of the fact of the genuine.
Who would believe that
the caterpillar becomes a butterfly unless he had seen it. If we
can accept that, how can we deny that death can be transformed into life.
The city of Phoenix, Arizona,
owes its name to a legendary bird that rose out of the ashes of a funeral
pyre. The first explorers in Arizona came upon prehistoric remains
of dwellings and canals, so they felt they were building again on the ashes
of the past. Our funeral ritual says "ashes to ashes, dust to dust";
yet the resurrection teaches us just the opposite. Burial is not
a return to our origins, but merely a transition. We do not go from
dust to dust. We go from life to life.
Art galleries in New York and
Florida have been exhibiting the paintings of Jacob J. Kass. His
work is unique because he never paints on canvas. He paints on saws:
hand saws, circular saws, all kinds of saws. He takes old, dull,
rusty, worn-out saw blades and paints on them scenes of striking beauty.
In a far, far, far larger way, God takes the ugliness of death and paints
on it a picture of life.
Two men were arguing about sports.
One said that boxing was the most violent of all sports. The other
said it was hockey, because in hockey they didn't just go at each other
with their fists they used sticks! The wives were listening and one
of them disagreed.
"I think baseball is the most violent sport."
"That's ridiculous," they answered. "Baseball
is not a violent sport. Why would you say that?"
"Well," she said, "the other day I overheard an announcer
say that in one inning three men died on base."
We may speak of death in a joke, but death is not
a joking matter. We may speak of it in a trifling way. We may
speak of it in a superficial manner. "I was so embarrassed I could
have died"; but death is no superficial or trifling matter. Perhaps
we use the word in all these ways to mask our fears. The Bible takes
death seriously. It calls it our enemy. The Bible never minimizes
death. It maximizes Christ's victory over death.
From all over the world, people
come to Florence to see Michelangelo's famous "David," one of the most
beautiful and one of the most celebrated statues in the world. Looking
at it in the great hall of the University, one finds the story behind it
hard to believe; but the story is true. That lovely piece of art
was made from a rejected stone. For fifty years it lay in the work
yard behind the Duomo at Florence. Duccio had tried to make something
of it but gave it up, leaving a great gash in the middle. Only a
Michaelangelo could see what possibilities lay in that piece of marble!
In a far, far larger way, Christ was the rejected stone, elevated to the
most important place, a fulfillment of ancient prophecy!
The largest man-made structure
on earth is a tomb, the Great Pyramid. The oldest man-made structure
on earth is a tomb, the step pyramid at Sakkara. The only one of
the seven wonders of the world that still stands is a tomb - the Pyramids!
Thus do we show man's preoccupation with death. Paul speaks of those
who all their lifetime were subject to bondage through fear! We see
that throughout history, men have feared death most of all. Christianity
is not preoccupied with death. It is preoccupied with life!
It was said of the people of
Rhodes that "they eat as if they were about to die and build as if they
were immortal." There is a sense in which we ought to conduct ourselves
as if we were about to die. Not that we indulge ourselves foolishly,
but that we make our time on earth count. We ought to live holy and
productive lives, as if any day might be our last. But we are, in
fact, immortal. We ought, in quite another way, to live as immortal
beings. We are going to spend eternity some place. We are determining
that now and preparing ourselves for it. The immortality of the soul
can be a very comforting doctrine or a very frightening doctrine.
Are you living as one about to die? Are you living as one immortal?
When Julius Caesar came to Alexandria,
they showed him the coffin of Alexander the Great. They then asked
him if he would like to see Ptolemy's coffin. He said, "I came to
see a king, not a corpse." When we come to church, we come to see
a King, not a corpse!
Do you know the song?
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow;
Sometimes the problem is not facing tomorrow. Sometimes it is facing
yesterday. The past may trouble as much as the future may make anxious.
But because He lives, we can face both the past and the future, both yesterday
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because 1 know He holds the future;
And life is worth the living just because He lives.
We have so many ways to avoid
the word death. We say he "went away." We say he "passed
away." We say he was "taken." We say he "fell asleep."
Far better to face death squarely and call it what it is. The Bible
does that and labels death our enemy. Faith gives us the courage
to look death in the eye because we know that death for a believer is only
a transition. It is never an end.
Recently, newspapers told the
story of a woman who was separated from her father at age two. Now,
forty-two years later, she is to finally meet him. When she located
him, half way across the nation, they talked on the phone for two hours!
Now they were planning a grand reunion. The headline for that story
read, "42 Year Wait to Meet Father." That's what life is - waiting
to meet our Father. We may have to wait eighty or ninety years, but
life is only waiting to meet our Father. When know that, death loses
It has been said, "At the end
of the game, the king and the queen and the pawns all go into the same
box." That's true of bodies but not of our souls. The grave
is the lot of us all. Death comes to powerful and ordinary, rich
and poor, famous and obscure. But we are more than our bodies; and
at the end of the game, we do not really all go into the same box.
Some hear the words, "Come, blessed of my Father," and they enter everlasting
life. Others hear the words, "Depart from me; I never knew you,"
and they enter into everlasting death.
In the huge, new Dallas/Fort
Worth airport is the skeleton of a plesiosaur. His bones were found
in the building of the airport. The plesiosaur is a great lizard,
twenty-five feet long and weighing ten thousand pounds. It is said
the plesiosaur lived seventy million years ago. The contrast is striking.
Here is one of the most modern airports in the world and in the midst of
it a skeleton seventy million years old. We have a similar contrast
in the resurrection. The Gospels tell us that the grave in which
Jesus was placed was near Golgotha. So the place of His death and
the place of His resurrection were side by side. The day of His death
and the day of His resurrection were side by side, only one day apart.
We who are always close to death may, by faith, also be close to life -
life like His, life everlasting!
At a world gathering of religious
leaders the spokesman for Christianity came to the heart of the matter
when he said, "Religion means to me victory, victory, victory!" That
is the thrust of our faith. Christianity means victory over sin!
Christianity means victory over death! Christianity means victory
over the grave! Christianity means victory over Hell itself!
How often in our experience
does a death bring about a reconciliation? Sometimes it is a reconciliation
in a family. Sometimes it is a reconciliation among friends.
Sometimes it is a reconciliation in a congregation. Often, death
brings abouta reconciliation. Christ's death brings about the most
important reconciliation of all. He has reconciled us to God by His
death on the cross.
Dying words are often illuminating.
When Henry David Thoreau was asked if he had made peace with God, he said,
"We never quarreled." Rabelais, the French writer, said, "I am going
to seek a great perhaps." Oscar Wilde was calling for champagne and
said, "I am dying as I have lived - beyond my means." Max Baer's
dying words were: "Oh, God, here I go!"
The cartoon "This Funny World"
once showed a couple leaving church. The wife is saying, "I ll tell you
why it's always the same old sermon. The only time you come is on
Easter Sunday, that's why!"
When the great preacher, William
Sangster, was terminally ill with cancer, he was living with his daughter.
He could get about but could not speak. One Easter Sunday morning,
he seemed especially despondent. Finally he wrote on his pad:
"What tragedy! Resurrection Lord's Day and no voice with which to
praise my great Redeemer's name." Then he sat dejectedly gazing out
the window. Finally, he wrote again: "There is only one thing more tragic
to have a voice and fail to praise the great Redeemer's Name."
The common denominators of all
religions is the conviction that this life is not all there is.
When Bishop Brown of the Episcopal
Church came to speak in Virginia's historic St. Luke's Church, Isle of
Wight county, he said, "It has been said that Bishop Brown wants to be
buried in St. Luke's graveyard. That's nonsense. I'm here to tell
you that Bishop Brown doesn't want to be buried anywhere."
In "The Romance of the Last
Crusade," British Major Vivian Gilbert told of his advance toward Jerusalem
during World War I. He stopped one night to visit a field hospital.
He stayed by the bedside of a dying soldier, barely nineteen. He
told their location. They were at Emmaus. Then he told him
the story from Luke of two men on their way to Emmaus and the appearance
of the risen Christ to them. He told him how Jesus ate with them
that day. "And it happened right here, on this very spot!" he said.
A look of peace and comfort told the major that the story had done its
"Why is this night different
from all other nights?" This is the question which is asked in every
Jewish home at Passover. It is always asked by the youngest child;
and it offers an opportunity to explain the rescue of Israel from Egypt.
So we may ask of the day of Christ's resurrection, why is this day different
from all other days? The answer is the most important ever given!
Even if we were not promised
Heaven, would death have to be that bad? Would death be too stiff
a price to pay for the privilege of living? That is the price.
Everything that lives also dies. From the smallest, single-celled
organism to the most complex man, animal, and plant all things that live
also die. If you would prefer to be a rock, you would never die;
but you would never live either. How much greater it is, though,
to have the confidence that this life is not all there is.
The first law of Thermodynamics
says that no mass or energy is ever destroyed, that it merely changes form.
When a piece of wood is burned, it is not gone. Some of it becomes
heat; some deteriorates into the ashes. But it is not destroyed -
it just changes. When a lake dries up, the water is gone. It
has evaporated into the air, only to fall to earth again someday.
If we can see this all around us in the physical world, is it so hard to
conceive of it in the spiritual world? Harry Emerson Fosdick said,
"Can it be that God is the most unscrupulous waster in the universe making
great personalities, only to throw them utterly away." If we can
see it in nature, can we see it in the sphere of faith? We, too,
can have the same confidence that the apostle Paul had when he said, "We
shall all be changed."
John Wooden, the famous basketball
coach, always keeps a cross in his pocket. He says he keeps it there
to remind himself that there is something more important in life than basketball!
The cross ought to remind us that there is something more important in
life than anything else and everything else that is that Jesus died and
rose again. That's more important than politics. That's more
important than business. That's more important than romance.
That's more important than education. That's more important than
your career. That's more important than your health. That's
more important than your safety. That's more important than your
The epitaph for one of the first
Virginians buried at Jamestown reads, "A Great Sinner Confidently Awaiting
A Joyous Resurrection."
We have so beautified the cross
that we often forget that it was really a hideous instrument of cruel torture.
In the Passion Play at Oberammergau, Germany, the man who plays the part
of Christ carries a cross weighing eighty pounds and hangs on it for twenty
minutes. We do not know how much the cross of Christ weighed, but
He hung on it for six long hours of agony until death came. We make
it beautiful because of the way it has blessed us. We make it beautiful
because it made our lives beautiful. We make it beautiful because
it expresses a beautiful love. The cross is not the only ugly thing
made beautiful by Jesus Christ!
In 1917, work was completed
on the Quebec Bridge over the St. Lawrence River. At that time, it
was the world's longest span. Eighty-six men died to bridge the river.
There is a longer span. It bridges the gulf between a sinful man
and a holy God. Only one man died to make that bridge possible.
We honor Him!
Warren K. Robinson preached
that he, himself, was divine. When he became gravely ill, his followers
would not allow a blood transfusion. "This is God," they said. "No
mere mortal blood could be allowed to enter the veins of God." Warren
K. Robinson died because they would not put the blood of men into a "god."
But in a sense, the reverse happened at Calvary. Would it be crude
to say that on the cross man received a Divine blood transfusion?
Isn't that what forgiveness is all about?
Jesus did not liken the kingdom
of God to a diamond, but to a pearl. Of all precious stones, the
pearl has the humblest origin. It begins with a wound and is created
out of God's resources for healing the wound. So the kingdom begins
with a wound, the wound in the body of Jesus. Then we marvel at God
s resources for healing: physically, mentally, spiritually!
A legend says an emperor found
a nail from the cross. With it he made a bit for his horse's bridle.
When he rode into battle after that, he always overcame his enemies because
of that piece of iron. Ah, the cross is not there to be used by us
to our advantage. The cross is there so that we may be used by God
to His advantage!
A few years ago, a French court
refused to rule on whether the Jews or the Romans were responsible for
the death of Jesus. The occasion was a claim for damages against the author
of a book entitled The True Trial of Jesus. The author had
been defamed, ruled the court, by a minister who called him a renegade
Christian because he put the blame on the Romans. The court awarded
damages of one franc! Of course, we already know who is to blame
for the death of Jesus. lt is not the Jews! It is not the Romans!
We, ourselves, are to blame! He died for our sins!
In Savannah, Georgia, there
are numerous monuments to Civil War battles and to those who died in them.
One bears this inscription from Ezekiel 37:9, "Come from the four winds,
O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live." It is
beautifully poetic to think of the breath of God that first brought life
in Eden coming again to restore life to the dead. However, we understand
that life beyond death is really the gift of the risen Christ. It
comes only through His power.
A five-year-old girl was very,
very fond of her Vacation Bible School teacher. She called her on
the phone to talk. "I pray for you every night," she said. "I pray
you'll live forever!" That's a sweet prayer. While death is
the universal lot of us all, it is also true that Christians live forever.
Christ's own resurrection ensures an answer to the child's prayer.
The great majority of art that
remains from ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome is funerary art. It
is art that comes from tombs or memorials; art that speaks of death.
In the museum at Thessalonica, there is a great collection of gold objects.
All are from tombs, from the great garments of death. Christianity
draws our attention away from death to life. Not that death can be
ignored, or should be ignored. It is rather that we see life, both
now and beyond the grave, as the most significant of all concerns.
It does no good to ornament death with gold or marble. It is still
death and still our enemy. It is better by far to ornament life with
good deeds and to spend our money, time, and art on those things that make
life more abundant, more lasting, and more blessed.
King Baldwin I was crowned king
of Jerusalem in Bethlehem because he refused to be crowned with a gold
crown in the city where the Lord was crowned with a crown of thorns.
King of my life, I crown Thee now,
Thine shall the glory be!
Lest I forget thy thorn-crowned brow,
Lead me to Calvary!
In the Canadian province of
Quebec, there is a custom that is observed every January third. It
dates from the fifth century. It consists of the baking, blessing,
and giving away of little loaves of bread. Every year they give away
fifty thousand of them! But the only bread truly blessed is the bread
that reminds us of the broken body of our Lord and of His pain.
The sculptures of Michelangelo
thrill art lovers all over the world. They are moved by the grace
of his "David," but he never signed it. They are awed by the majesty
of his "Moses," but he never signed it. They are thunderstruck at
the impact of the "Medici Tomb," but he never signed it. The only
sculpture he ever signed is the "Pieta" Mary taking Jesus down from the
cross. The only work that bears his name is the one that reflects
Someone published a book picturing
the many shapes of the cross. It has been stylized in a dozen ways.
There is a Latin cross, a Greek cross, an Egyptian cross, a Jerusalem cross,
a cross of St. Andrew, and an iron cross. Artists and architects
have modified its basic form in many ways. I suppose that does no
harm, but we must never modify the meaning of the cross - Christ died for
The largest cross in the world
is located on Bald Knob mountain in southern Illinois. It towers
111 feet high and can be seen for miles in every direction. But the true
cross towers higher. It towers above our vain ambition. It
towers above our petty concerns. It towers above all that is fleshly,
material, or worldly. It towers above life itself!
A little African boy in Kenya
cut his foot badly. Without telling his family, he went at once to
the mission hospital. Later, his mother showed up. When asked
how she found him, she replied, "I followed the blood."
The nation of Panama was a diplomatic
creation of the United States in order to build the Panama Canal.
Panama seceded from Columbia without the loss of a single life, except
for one man in a laundry killed when a Columbian gunboat lobbed a token
shell into the city of Panama! Our spiritual freedom was not so easily
won. No accidental death brought it about. It took the deliberate
and willing sacrifice of Christ our Lord.
When we built Boulder Dam (now
Hoover Dam), it was the largest in the world. As is common on such
projects, there were the inevitable accidents and some workmen lost their
lives. When the dam was complete, they put a plaque into the wall.
On it they inscribed the names of the workmen who had died during construction.
The plaque begins, "These died that the desert might rejoice and blossom
as the rose." So Christ died that the dry and arid souls of men might
be refreshed and renewed and turned from total waste to useful service.
A visitor to Russia was walking
down the Moscow River at evening. The sun was sinking and its direct
rays no longer reached the valley, nor the walls of the Kremlin, nor the
palace of the Czars, nor the Soviet flag above it, but shone only on the
cross on top of the Church of the Assumption, the old church where the
Czars had been crowned. The light lingered last on that cross as
if to say that there was something in that cross that would endure when
all human institutions had passed away, all Czars had been forgotten, when
the last Communist had disappeared and the doctrines of Karl Marx had turned
to dust. It suggested to him that the cross would eternally hold
meaning and hope for the human race.
When Bomilcar was crucified
in the marketplace at Carthage, he shouted curses from his cross and hurled
insults at his enemies. When Jesus was crucified on Calvary, He prayed
for His enemies: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
Because of His sinless character, Christ's cross has an efficacy that none
other possesses. His alone can provide forgiveness of sin.
When the Unknown Soldier was
laid to rest in Arlington, he was given the Congressional Medal of Honor
and the Croix de Guerre; and to these each of the Allied powers added its
highest honor. He was the first non-British citizen to receive the
United Kingdom's highest honor. Thus decorated, the body of the Unknown
Soldier was laid to rest.
But when the Captain of our salvation was laid to
rest, He knew no such pomp and ceremony. The only honor accorded
Him by men was Pilate's crude title above the cross: Jesus of Nazareth,
King of the Jews. God, however, gave Him a stirring salute, for the
earth quaked, darkness shrouded the midday sun; and in His honor, graves
were opened and the dead walked. In the face of such honors, the
centurion said, "Truly this man was the Son of God." How poor are
the honors we come to bestow on Him today. But if we bring with those
humble honors lives dedicated to Him, they will be graciously accepted.
When General Douglas MacArthur
left the Philippines in the early part of World War II, he made a short
speech: "I will return." Later on in the war, he came back
to the Philippines in victory. Cameras recorded his wading ashore.
He made another speech: "I have returned." The first speech would
have been worthless without the second, which gave it force and meaning.
So Jesus promised to rise from the dead. How hollow that would sound
if He had not come back from the dead. But what a note of victory
it now sounds now that He is risen!
Because he led the army that
liberated the Philippines in World War II, General Douglas MacArthur has
been ever since a hero in that country. To this very day, whenever
a group of Philippine soldiers answer roll call, after the last name has
been called, they always add, "Douglas MacArthur," and someone always answers,
"Here!" When we call the roll of the church on earth, Christ is really
here. It is not symbolic. It is not a gesture. Because
He rose from the dead, He can and does keep His promise, "Lo, I am with
you alway." It is not some imposter who answers "Here." He
Charles Revlon, president of
Revlon Cosmetics, is reported to have said, "I sell hope." Of course,
hope can never be bought. It is given away, by Christ, to those who
"It is a poor tale in which
humanity slaps at the face of Divinity and gets away with it."
The resurrection of Jesus has given us, as Christians,
a new perspective on death. Preaching on the resurrection often comments
on that perspective, and may thus find useful some of the following quotations.
They reveal much about their authors views of death, as well as their hope,
or hopelessness, for beyond.
Perhaps death is life and life is death,
And victuals and drink an illusion of the senses;
For what is Death but an eternal sleep?
And does not Life consist in sleeping and eating?
But whether on the scaffold high
-Michael Joseph Barry
Or in the battle's van,
The fittest place where man can die
Is where he dies for man!
Click, click, click... Death is prancing;
- Henri Cazalis (Jean Lahors)
Death, at midnight, goes a-dancing,
Tapping on a tomb with talon thin,
Click, click, click, goes the grisly violin.
Things have a terrible permanence
- Aline (Mrs. Joyce) Kilmer
When people die.
From wind to wind, earth has one tale to tell;
- Celia Laighton Thaxter
All other sounds are dulled, and drowned, and lost,
In this one cry, "Farewell."
When we have thrown off this old suit,
- George Meredith
So much in need of mending,
To sink among the naked mute,
Is that, think you, our ending?
But once put out thy light,
Thou cunning'st pattern of excelling nature,
I know not where is that Promethean heat
That can thy light relume.
Nothing exists which the British bourgeoisie
- Sir Osbert Sitwell
Does not understand;
Therefore there is no death
- And, of course, no life.
Death is the ugly fact which Nature has to hide, and she hides it well.
- Alexander Smith
Yes, death is strong, but look you, the strongest,
- Franz Werfel Death
Stronger is music than death.
Death in itself is nothing; but we fear
- John Dryden
To be we know not what, we know not where.
Afraid? Of whom am I afraid?
- Emily Dickinson
Not death; for who is he?
The porter of my father's lodge
As much abasheth me.
Somewhere I read, in an old book whose name
- Theodore Roosevelt
Is gone from me, I read that when the days
Of a man are counted, and his business done,
There comes up the shore at evening, with the tide,
To the place where he sits, a boat -
And in the boat, from the place where he sits; he
Dim in the dusk, dim and yet so familiar,
The faces of his friends long dead; and knows
They come for him, brought in upon the tide,
To take him where men go at set of day.
Neither the sun nor death can be looked at steadily.
- Francois, Duc de la Rochefoucauld
As one looks on a face through a window, through life
- Amelia Josephine Burr
I have looked on God.
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
- John Donne
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so:
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death; nor yet canst thou kill me.
Why fear death? Death is only a beautiful adventure.
- (Last words of a passenger to a group of friends as the Lusitania
was sinking [May 7,1915] reported by a survivor, Rita Jolivet)
Oh, write of me, not "Died in bitter pains,"
- Helen Hunt Jackson
But "Emigrated to another star!"
It must be so Plato, thou reasonest well!
- Joseph Addison
Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after immortality?
Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror
Of falling into naught? Why shrinks the soul
Back to herself, and startles at destruction?
'Tis the divinity that stirs within us;
'Tis Heaven itself that points out an hereafter,
And intimates eternity to man.
Eternity! thou pleasing, dreadful thought!
Lorenzo Savin, 1877, age 74, Eastport, Maine:
Francis Magranis, 1891, age 85, South Hadley, Massachusetts:
My shoes are made
My work is done;
Yes, dear friends,
I'm going home.
And where I've gone
And how I fare
There's nobody to know
And nobody to care.
In a state of perfect oblivion
who died Sept 2 1811
Death has decomposed him
And at the great resurrection
Christ will recompose him.
Phineas G. Wright, 1918, age 89, Putnam, Connecticut:
Going, But Know Not Where
East Derry, New Hampshire:
Edmund R. Angell
"I don't know how to die."
Jaffrey, New Hampshire:
Sacred to the Memory of Violate
Jaffrey, New Hampshire:
by purchase the slave of Amos Fortune
by marriage his wife,
by her fidelity his companion and solace
She died his Widow Sept. 13, 1802 AEt. 73
Sacred to the Memory of Amos Fortune
Patience Holmes, 1845, age 24, Plymouth, Massachusetts (and others in New
Hampshire and Vermont):
who was born free in Africa
a slave in America, he purchased
liberty, professed Christianity,
lived reputably, died hopefully
Nov. 17, 1901 AEt. 91.
Shed not for her the bitter tear
Nor give the heart to vain regret
'Tis but the casket that lies here
The gem that filled it sparkles yet.
and proofread by Michael Riggs