There was nothing extraordinary about yesterday, it was simply a Monday. Perhaps that’s the beauty in how extraordinary a day it was. Yesterday I had the rare privilege of holding a brand new baby in my arms and less than half an hour later, laying my hands on a friend who was about to die. A normal Monday, walking between life and death.
Our dear friend Phil Criswell, who has long been an active member of our church and a popular and well respected part of the Duneland Community, passed away last night. Phil has been fighting a battle with cancer for years. Five years ago it almost won. He was dead for 17 minutes, but God saw fit to give him the gift of five more years with his girls and he never looked back. Phil will be missed so strongly because he loved to laugh, always had a mischievous smile on his face and never met someone he wouldn’t gladly help in anyway he could.
Death came as an act of mercy yesterday for Phil. He was given the gift of perfect healing. He was able to leave his ravaged body behind and find peace and joy that can only come in the presence of our creator. I rejoice for Phil even as I mourn for his loss.
And even as we gather and mourn there is new life. Little Sydney that I held yesterday is beautiful and healthy and perfect. To hold her is to hold all the potential wrapped up in a new life brought forth by the breath of God.
Life and death, all at once, all the time. Sometimes I am so busy living I miss the beauty of life and death. Both are gifts from God. Both remind us of the Alpha and the Omega. Both are reason for thanksgiving and praise.
So thank you Lord for our lives, as brief, complicated, hard, troublesome, wonderful, mysterious, and filled with laughter and heartache as they are. Thank you for breathing your breath of life into me and giving me the opportunity to discover you each day in all the big and tiny moments you have granted me. Thank you Father also for death. Thank you that there is an end to this temporary life. Thank you that through Jesus that end is now a beginning and in that moment when all seems lost we instead are given life eternal. Only you, O Lord, could be beautiful and loving enough to give us both life and death. Thank you for their mystery and for your presence in each. May this day I live prepared to die and when the moment comes for me to die may I die prepared to live. Amen.