24. But God raised him from the dead ... because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.
A personal parable! (a story that points to a spiritual meaning!).
I shared this at the Usher Hall in Edinburgh with about 1500 people on Easter Sunday 5 years ago. Neil Diamond was there the day after ... my nearest brush with greatness!
I believe in resurrection before death.
In November 2013, I received a phone call telling me my mother, who had had dementia for almost 9 years, was on her last legs. I travelled back to Northern Ireland. She had been struggling ... she had not spoken for 2 years.
A very soft spoken and rather slow spoken Dungannon (Mid-Ulster) doctor explained she had pneumonia ... and things were not good.
The Minister was called ... prayers were said.
We sat with her for 3 days and nights (in current times, I now realise what a privilege that was).
It was a mixed admission ward;
A young woman
An older lady ... big knitter
A grumpy guy
A lovely man who had had a minor stroke that had released many of his emotions.
Mum’s bed was underneath the ward TV ... and while her bed was surrounded by a curtain, all eyes in the ward were fixed just above those curtains ... so they also saw all our comings and goings.
On Saturday night “Strictly Come Dancing” was blasting out above her head. Can you imagine?
Bruno Tonioli: “My darling, you were Amaaazing!!!”
Surreal was not the word!
But nothing to what happened next!
After three nights, Dad and I went home to sleep ... prospects were still not good ... but stable.
That night my father and I prayed together for possibly the first time ever.
The next morning we arrived ... and an oddly familiar sound greeted us long before we reached the ward.
Someone was singing the hymn ... ”The Old Rugged Cross”
We went into the ward.
The ward “crew” had been waiting for us.
The young woman said that my mother had been singing all night and would I mind giving the name and number of the minister who had prayed with her!
The knitter was knitting Mum a scarf ... or possibly a sound muffler.
The grumpy and by now very tired guy ... well you can imagine what he said!
The lovely man said it was a triumph of the human spirit ... while crying.
I pulled back the curtain and my mother was sitting up in bed singing ... The Old Rugged Cross!
“Hello Mum”, I said ...
“Hello Darling” she replied ... the first words I had heard her say for 2 years.
The second words ... looking at my beard ... were “What is that on your face?”
Another Doctor from Belfast ... the polar opposite of Dungannon Doctor ... said in the quickest of quick fire chats.
“Your mother has possibly been over sedated” ... his exact words “you’re a big fella ... it would have knocked you flat”. While she recovered from pneumonia she had also gone “cold turkey” from the sedatives ... and had “awoken!” (I have to stress, we have still have nothing but the greatest respect for those in her care home ... Mum’s was not at all a straightforward case)
She still had deep dementia ... but sang (mostly the Old Rugged Cross and I’ll take you home again Kathleen) for the next 2 years. And she knew us and that we were there!
The parable’s meaning?
I believe in resurrection after death ... but I also believe that resurrection starts before death. Spiritual awakening!
What, if anything, is keeping us asleep ... ”over sedating“ us spiritually?
John 10 v10 Jesus says “I came to bring them Life and Life in all its fullness”
That full life begins now!
Many of us have perhaps been sleep walking ... made spiritually drowsy by whatever!
Is an awakening beginning?
For Christians the awakening begins at the Cross and is confirmed by the resurrection and empowered at Pentecost.
A prayer using the chorus of that hymn
So I'll cherish the old rugged Cross
Till my trophies at last I lay down
I will cling to the old rugged Cross
And exchange it some day for a crown
Just a thought ... perhaps a good thought for a Monday ... or any day!
Have a good week ...