“O D_ _ _ _ , where is your sting? O Grave, where is your victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55)
Have you noticed that nobody used the ‘d’ word any more? People don’t die – they ‘pass away’ or ‘pass on’, ‘slip away’ or simply ‘go’.
Even the Safari Park last year announced that Dickie, the Southern White Rhino, had ‘sadly passed away’.
The schoolteacher in me wants to move the adverb or insert a couple of commas (we are the ones who are sad, not Dickie!), but, as a minister, I am much more concerned about our reluctance to speak openly about death, thus giving it back its victory – and its sting.
In this season of Lent, we travel in imagination with Christ on the Way of the Cross: a road that leads inexorably to death, in all its horror.
Jesus did not seek, or want death, but nor was he afraid of it.
He defeated death not by avoiding it, or trying to pretend that it was less awful than it is, but by facing it head on, and showing once and for all that life – and love – are stronger.
In the words of Desmond Tutu, “Goodness is stronger than evil, love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; life is stronger than death. Victory is ours … through him who loved us.”