Thoughts on death, music by Longwave

I’ve been thinking about death lately. It sounds morbid, I know, but hang with me for a second here…

Recently good friends at work and at church have lost someone. I’m amazed by their persistence to carry on, and I’m profoundly affected by their pain. Another friend has a spouse who’s facing incredible (fatal?) health problems.

I also work in a part of publishing which keeps in me in constant contact with what’s going on in the world of church ministry. Right now many folks are celebrating lent. As a result I’m frequently reminded of the death of Christ right now. As I’ve mentioned before, that’s a pretty dark part of the Christian story.

And so, my thoughts to turn to death.

Death is popular literary character. I’m sure you’ve seen the angel of death, the grim reaper, or some other similar character in a number of movies (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1 would be one example). Characteristically hooded and untrustworthy, he’s been employed by some of my favorite authors (Bradbury and Gaiman) and he’s more than hinted at in classics like A Christmas Carol and others.

But when real people die, is it appropriate to think of death in such terms? Doesn’t that seem crass, and disrespectful to the mourning? It’s common to think of death as a hooded guy with a scythe when we’re far from it (or him?). Popular movies and novels reveal as much. But when someone passes in reality, it’s the last thing we think of.

Interestingly, death is also personified in the Bible. Death can hold something (Acts 2:24); it is an enemy to be destroyed (1 Cor. 15:26); it has a shadow (Psalm 23:4); and it’s the rider on one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse (Rev. 6:8). If God thinks that personifying death is helpful for us to understand it – who am I to argue?

A song worth listening to when thinking about the person of death is this one. Lyrics are printed below.

when the weight is on your shoulders
come on your knees
when the weight is on your shoulders
come on your knees
wake me when it’s over
wake me please
wake me when it’s over
all the things you knew for sure
were not what they seemed
all the things you knew for sure
were not what they seemed
wake me when it’s over
wake me please
wake me when it’s over
when all the noise had gone
anything you want
i will give away just to watch you go

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