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STUDY SERIES:    Going Home                                                                                   SESSION No. 2

FACING MORTALITY!

INTRODUCTION:

The evangelist had preached with passion about heaven and hell and, in conclusion, he asked the question, "Who wants to go to heaven?" Predictably everyone in the Church that night raised their hand. Everyone, that is, except a young boy sitting with his parents in the front row. The preacher noted his lack of response and said to the little lad, "Sonny, don't you want to go to heaven when you die?" The youngster replied, "Oh, when I die! I thought you were getting up a bus load to go right now!" That little story is both amusing yet personally disturbing. It's amusing in a cute way. It's disturbing because I'm just like that boy. I want to go to heaven when I die but I'm not willing, ready or prepared to go right now.

INTERACTION: Do you think much about heaven? Does it ever feature in conversation with your friends? What do you imagine heaven to be is like? Is it “up there”? If you believe in heaven, do you anticipate going there when you die? What qualifications do you think a person should have to be accepted into heaven?

People are afraid of death so we do not talk about it in everyday conversation. Why is that fear so deep within us? Which of these statements help us understand that fear?

  1. Death is inevitable – it is the most democratic system on earth – one death per person!

  2. Death is invincible – it always wins in the long run – mortality means our life is temporary

  3. Death is irreversible – we can’t return after we die – it’s a one-way trip!

A man asked a friend, “How do you want to die?” The friend replied, “I don’t want to know “how”; I want to know “where” so I can stay away from there.”!!  What do you learn from that interchange?

The words of the Apostle Paul come to mind:

"For to me, living is for Christ, and dying is even better. Yet if I live, that means fruitful service for Christ. I really don't know which is better. I'm torn between two desires: Sometimes I want to live, and sometimes I long to go and be with Christ. That would be far better for me, but it is better for you that I live". (Phil 1:20-24 NLT)

INTERACTION:  How would you describe Paul’s understanding of death? What about his attitude to heaven? He seems to be conflicted about whether or not he wants to die. Discuss together why he seems to be of two minds. How would you describe to someone else the reasons behind Paul’s struggle.  According to the passage above, what happens when we die?

Paul said, "I'm torn between two desires...”  To be honest, I'm not!  Perhaps I should be - like the Apostle. Heaven knows, enough preachers have told me that this should be the default position of genuine Christians. Maybe I feel this way because I don't want to leave my family?  Then again, could it be that I still feel that I have unfinished work to be done? How do I really feel about death and dying? What do I really believe about the journey through the valley of the shadow of death? Could the fact that I'm now into my 70th year also be a factor?

I am certainly aware that the limitations that come with the ageing process make one more aware of decreasing energy. Ten years ago, just before I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, I had been enjoying a life of near perfect health.

I recall very clearly leaving the rooms of the neurologist with that diagnosis ringing in my ears. It wasn't a death sentence but it powerfully brought home to me like never before the fact that I really am mortal. My life had a beginning and it will have an end.

Four years later a heart attack reinforced that awareness. Another four years along life's path and the removal of a kidney with a tumour on it further confronted me with the mortality of my body.

With such life experiences , I would have thought that I have had plenty of reminders and opportunities to get ready to "go home". Perhaps I have been too busy "down here" to give any time and attention to prepare for "up there".

Whatever be the answers to my questions, I acknowledge that the pull of this earthly life in all its relational components is stronger than any desire or willingness to "go home".

Actually, that reminds me about Rev. David Watson and his battle with liver cancer.

More about that in the next session.

 

Think about the following statement during this coming week and come to the next meeting of your group prepared to share your thoughts.

“We are calling this study series ‘GOING HOME’. Why would anyone think of heaven as ‘home’? If heaven is our home, what does that suggest about our life on earth?

 

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