Apr 30, 2014

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MEDITATION: A toast on the gift of life

MEDITATION: A toast on the gift of life

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:54)

This week I visited a very old friend of our family. She is already 87 years of age, but still has a clear mind together with a remarkable sense of humour and dignity.

Two months ago however her older brother died at the age of 92.

For her it was quite a loss. As she put it: “Of all the children – we were four altogether – the two of us were the closest. Throughout my childhood he always cared for his ‘little sister.’ We shared the same sense of adventure, humour and pleasure in life.”

As the years passed a problem however arose – one they openly talked about on the phone shortly before he died.

The problem was that, given their age and frail health – also the fact that he lived in Gauteng and she in Stellenbosch – it was clear that whenever death comes one of them would not be able to attend the other’s funeral.

For my friend it was not a happy prospect. She felt a deep need and obligation for the one to honour the other by at least attending the other’s funeral. However, she also realized that, given their circumstances, this would not be possible.

But then the brother with his wonderful sense of humour came up with a very simple, but liberating solution. He told her: “Given that we won’t be able to attend each other’s funeral, let’s do it this way: When the fatal day comes, I will attend mine and you will attend yours. And whoever stays behind will remember the other on that day. And that will settle it.”

And so this woman when the day of her brother’s funeral arrived, took out her Bible, lit a candle and waited and prayed in silence during the planned hour, all the time remembering the wonderful times they spent together.

And when the hour had finally passed, she poured herself a glass of white wine, lifted it and toasted her brother for the good life they spent together, for the hopeful prospect of joining him one day, and for the good Lord who granted it all to them.

I could not help thinking about this story during Easter. Because in a wonderful way it exemplifies the spirit of hope and of new life that Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 15. It shows us what faith in Christ’s victory over death truly means.

Carel Anthonissen

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