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Archive for Saturday, March 25, 2006

Are people who have died watching over us all?

March 25, 2006

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Honor people here now like those departed

The Rev. Jeff Lilley, pastor, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 2211 Inverness Drive:

A few years ago, a very popular book about angels painted a heavenly scene where departed loved ones in the form of angels peered over the edges of clouds, warning relatives of impending doom.

While the book is and was popular, its vision was not particularly helpful to me as a Christian. The Bible is not clear on this issue, but there seems to be little evidence that our departed loved ones are "watching over us" in the popular sense. The promise from Christ is eternal life. This is more than enough comfort for me!

Hebrews 12 speaks of the "great cloud of witnesses." The author is encouraging readers to endure in their own suffering for the sake of the faith as did their faith ancestors. Perhaps this is one way we experience our ancestors "looking over us." Through their example of humility, service, love, endurance and joy, we are encouraged to live lives that emulate those positive qualities. They serve as ever-present reminders to live fully in our faith for the sake of the world.

Some faiths venerate the dead and believe deeply that their ancestors watch over them in a very physical sense. Others see death as a transition to a "spirit state" where the dead surround the living like an unseen village. Still others see death as final. Whatever beliefs we hold, it seems important to honor those who have gone before us by honoring and loving one another now. This is our witness that will endure long after we are gone, and may become our "watching over" those who follow after us.

- Send e-mail to Jeff Lilley at pastorjeff@sunflower.com.

We are all connected to the seen and unseen

The Rev. Darlene Strickland, pastor, Unity Church of Lawrence, 900 Madeline Lane:

One of the most profound mysteries of life is that it includes death. Nearly all faith traditions teach that although the body dies, the spirit which inhabited it does not. Our spirit is integrated with a dimension of life that transcends physical death.

The death of a loved one is usually accompanied by a distressing experience of grief. When a loved one dies, we have an intense need to know they are safe and at peace.

As such, it is not unusual for people to experience a type of after-death confirmation from a loved one. The experiences range from dream-state encounters, visual and/or audible experiences, a message from or through another person or animal, a precious item mysteriously appears ... and the list goes on.

Does this mean that people on the other side are watching over us? I believe it means that we are all connected - the seen and the unseen.

To some degree, spiritual energies from the unseen realm do remain "present." At times, this presence is discernible; however, why, when, how and if it may occur is unpredictable. I believe there are many dimensions to life; and it is confusing to apply the understanding and "norms" of this realm to other realms.

The greatest insurance policy for death is love, the one presence that transcends any barrier. If we believe we are spiritual beings, emanating from one source, then we can find comfort in accepting that our life is intricately linked with all life. Long after we are gone, our presence will remain. Love never dies.

- Send e-mail to Darlene Strickland at revdarlene@unityoflawrence.org.

Comments

xenophonschild 8 years, 9 months ago

When you're dead, you're dead. Period. No soul, no afterlife, no "heaven," no "hell." And no final judgement. You religious lollys need to focus on life in the here-and-now, and forget your childish focus on "spirituality."

Grow up. Become a secular humanist. Rid yourself of the superstitious mythologies that have corrupted and misled you your entire lives. Be strong.

xenophonschild 8 years, 9 months ago

75x55 - "empty and hopeless mythology?" First there was Spinoza, who postulated the parallels between God and physical matter, then Newton, then Einstein, then Hubble, then Hawking, and now Greene. Since the Industrial Revolution in the 1700s, and the concommitant rise of empirical science, all the sky-god religions, including your precious Christianity, have become obsolete. No rational person should, or does, believe that an illegitimate Gallilean peasant who managed to get himself executed two thousand years ago, is the Lord God of the universe responsible for the myriad laws that underlie creation. Wake up to the truth! Rid yourself of mythological superstitious drivel!

Wilbur_Nether 8 years, 9 months ago

No one is going to change their mind on the basis of an internet forum post. Demanding that people change their belief system to fit someone else's idea of what it should be, whether to Christianity, Shinto, or secular humanism is largely a wasted effort.

As is posting a request for them to stop, I suppose.

xenophonschild 8 years, 9 months ago

Wilbur_Nether: Good manners require that we at least attempt to rescue them, regardless of how tightly they wrap the chains of their credulity about them.

Daniel Speicher 8 years, 9 months ago

Whether or not you believe that Christianity is bogus or true it is very closed-minded and negligent to say that no rational person believes in Christ. I think when one says such things they tend to re-define what rational is. Christianity is a very prevalent belief in the world today and to say that every person who believes that Galilean peasant was the Messiah is irrational is an irresponsible stance to stand on.

I, obviously to anyone who reads my profile or many of my postings, am a Christian. I believe that we were created (either by the direct hand of God or through evolution) by a loving God. And, even though man chose to sin when Adam and Eve partook of that which God had forbidden, I believe that God loved mankind so much that He made the only sacrifice that would both atone for His perfect justice and fulfill His perfect mercy. That sacrifice being Jesus Christ, the only man who ever walked the earth completely sinless and was paradoxically both fully man and fully God. He died upon a cross and rose three days later so that we might be saved, not only from eternal death, but also saved from a spiritual death here on earth. He lived, died and rose again that we might have life to the fullest. No condemnation is in Him... He is the gift given of God to a dead and dying world. He is the link between God, the Father, and humanity longing for that link to the divine. We need not do anything to accept the gift of eternal life... It is ours for free. No other faith, and no religion, claims that salvation is a free gift from God for those who pick it up... Because there is no other faith and no religion who can make such a statement.

As far as the question for today... Whether or not our loved ones are "looking down" upon us is irrelevant although sentimental. I believe that time on earth is looked upon as continual from the heavenlies. I honestly believe that we will all get to heaven pretty much at the same time. Our loved ones won't miss us for long... I believe they'll breathe their last breath here, and instantaneously be in Heaven, they'll blink their eyes and we'll be right beside them. That's my thought.

--Danny

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