Dave Brisbin 3.14.21
Fourth Sunday of Lent. A woman tells me that covid issues have divided her family to the point she feels her once close family is now like roommates passing in the halls. She was devastated and wondering how it could have happened? Good question. How have the medical and political issues surrounding the pandemic been powerful enough to divide us all the way down to families and marriages? Last few weeks, we’ve been talking about paradox as the means to deeper truth, and here’s a case in point: what paradox is more central to human experience than life and death? How do we live life well always knowing we’re going to die? Characteristically, we’ve been doing it by simply not thinking about death…our society has dealt with the paradox by choosing sides—life, youth, materialism—quickly removing dead and dying to hospitals, morgues, nursing and funeral homes, extending life at all costs, pretending we’re not part of the circle of life. Recent science has even shown that our brains physically reject connections of death as pertaining to ourselves: don’t fire electrically, don’t register the surprise/shock of that reality.

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As individuals and societies, we treat paradox as simple contradictions to resolve, choosing a side, so never finding the deeper truth that always presents as surprise. A surprise is the greatest gift life can give us, shocking us into new, more real reality. Why has covid divided us? Created roommates where there used to be family? Because it has stripped off our avoidance of death, made us face our own mortality as well as that of others. And that has made us afraid, and fear divides. But Jesus shows us in parables and sayings related to the Hebrew wedding tradition that death is the surprise that makes life alive—eternal. That holding life and death, the now and not yet in equal embrace reveals the priceless fragility of life even as we anticipate the ultimate surprise that death represents. And if we’ll respect the central paradox of the gospels, we’ll see that resurrection is the surprise that takes the sting, the fear out of death. No longer fearful, we find the truth that makes us free to live life well, even as and only when lit by the surprise of death.

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