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STUDY SERIES:    Going Home                                                                               SESSION No. 1

BE PREPARED!

Introduction

"One of my good friends is dying of cancer. We have prayed for his healing time and again. It is now obvious that healing in the here and now is not on God's agenda for him. When I stand before the Church this Sunday, what can I say to them?”  And with those words, that young Pastor identified the dilemma we all face as we try to put the subject of death and dying into a framework that honours the Scriptures and, at the same time, is practical and authentic and life-relatable.

INTERACTION:   What would you have said to that young Pastor?  Do you think your church is pro-active in teaching and preparing people for the event that will eventually overtake us all, no matter what our age or background? What practical steps does your church take to bring people to a state of being “ready to go home”?

My response to that Pastor was this:  "It's time to help the Church understand that your friend and theirs will be dying soon and the role of the Church is to help him to get ready to 'go home'. That also includes preparing the members of his family and his Church family".  

We talked for some time about the implications of such an approach - especially dealing with those folk who just cannot accept this aspect of ministry to the dying - preparing them to go home.

OUR PERSPECTIVE ON DEATH AND DYING

Our belief system is largely shaped by life experiences. How we feel about death and dying will largely be determined by the examples we have had in our spiritual formation as Christians. In the introductory notes I made reference to the Apostle Paul and his perspective on life and death.

That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long. Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever! So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather, we look forward to what we have not yet seen. For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever. (2 Cor 4:16-18 NLT)

INTERACTION:  Analyze the passage and write down what you think is Paul’s understanding of death and dying. For example, “…Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day”. He makes a couple of comparisons like that in the above verses. Can you see them? E.g. bodies/spirits, dying/renewed.

Since this is a vital subject that, sooner or later, confronts us all, it is important that we know what we believe about death and dying and why we believe it. That is the purpose of this set of studies. It will be interesting to see if we believe differently at the conclusion of the series to what we believe now!

So, what do we believe now? Make use of the following statements to identify your current beliefs about death and dying. Talk about them in your group. Don’t question or criticize what others say; just listen and allow them to express their convictions.

  1. I believe that our bodies die (cease to function) but our spirits live on after our bodies die [Yes/No]

 

  1. I don’t believe in life after death. At death we just cease to exist. Oblivion. [Yes/No]

 

  1. There could be life beyond death but no one knows for sure.  [Yes/No]

 

  1. I believe that when we die we go into a kind of sleep and we will wake up when Jesus comes back to earth at the Second Coming    [Yes/No]

 

  1. The idea of life after death scares me because that probably means there is a heaven and a hell and I might end up in hell  [Yes/No]

 

CONCLUSION:

After that session with my young pastoral colleague, I sat alone for quite a while, pondering the implications of what we discussed together. More to the point, I found that I was questioning whether I myself was ready and prepared to make the journey from this life to the next.....the journey home.

More about that in our next session.

 

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