The promise of Things to Come...
Like most clergy, I have plenty of very weighty, very serious theological books on my shelves – but also others which, although lighter and rather less serious, nevertheless contain pearls of wisdom.
I’ve been reading one which takes a sideways look at all things religious - including the increasingly popular idea that pictures our departed loved ones smiling as they look down at what we are doing from On High – rather like a celestial TV lounge, perhaps, with angels serving tea. It’s not an idea supported by anything found in the New Testament, but many people nevertheless seem to find it attractive - although, as the book points out, it rather loses its appeal when you’re in the shower or doing something that you know they would disapprove of.
An inscription on an ancient headstone beside the path in the churchyard at Alkham takes a different view: He is not dead but sleepeth. The words come from the gospels, spoken by Jesus to a distraught father whose young daughter had just died, and who he was about to restore to life - words which once offered such hope and comfort to a grieving local family that they chose them to be carved on their loved one’s memorial.
For Christians Easter brings with it the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the hope of heaven for those who trust in Him. What no eye has seen, wrote St Paul, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived… God has prepared for those who love him.
To me, that promises that Eternity will be a much more exciting prospect than simply being expected to look down and smile as what’s left of my life savings is blown on computer games. I hope so, anyway…