This might seem to be a strange post for Holy Week but I think it's a perfect one, because the reason we, as Methodist, die well, is because of Christ's death and resurrection. Let me back up and explain.
Living Like You're Dying
The early methodists were known as people who died well. They had grace and assurance of God's love and forgiveness for them, so they did not fear death. Furthermore, John Wesley (the founder of Methodism), made it a point to share the stories of those who died and went on to glory. Wesley knew that if we are going to die well, then we must live well. We must live every day honoring God so that we are ok if it is our last.
The country song "Live Like you are Dying" has it right in the title, but wrong in the words. It's not about taking extra vacations (although you should spend plenty of time with your family). We should live every day in a way that if we were to die, we would be proud of the lives we lived when we stood before God.
Lent and Easter
If you read my post on Lent, then you know that Lent is really about a time for us to mourn Christ's death. If you go to an Ash Wednesday service, you'll hear something like, "From ashes you came, and to ashes you will return. Repent and you will be forgiven." The point of this is to remember that we all will die one day.
When Holy Week comes (the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday), we really crank things up. On Maundy Thursday, we relive Christ's last supper in different ways, then on Good Friday, many people go into mourning on an extreme level. Many churches cover the cross in their sanctuaries. The Catholic church always cover's the crucifix and it's the one time the Christ candle is burned out and the tabernacle is emptied. Christ has left the building.
But then, on Easter morning, Christ overcomes death and returns to life! For us as Christians, this is our reminder every year that when we die, our death isn't permanent. One day, we will be physically resurrected and rejoined with everyone we love in the life everlasting.
Ushering into Glory
A couple of weeks ago, I had the distinct pleasure to usher a young girl, just a few years younger than me, into glory with her family. I always consider this to be one of the most unique honors I have as a pastor because it's a living testimony of this girl's life. I get to listen to her family share of the life she lived for God and we get to ask God to welcome her into his loving arms. In the end, we pray that he will care for her until we all get to meet her again one day.
This is the hope of our faith. It's the most beautiful thing to watch people, who in their grief, still see God at work. I want to live my life in a way that people will look back on it and know that I spent every day dedicated to God. This was one of the things Wesley wrote in his death accounts, and I hope someone can say it about me when the Lord takes me home: