Remember the movie Click where Adam Sandler’s character came upon a remote control that he could use to pause, mute, and rewind his life? He found himself skipping through things that he didn’t want to wait for or deal with, and by the end of the movie, a much older man realized that most of the important moments in his life had already passed him by. My life has been feeling like that a lot lately.

It seems like we stay busy from dawn to dusk – running here and there, doing household chores, trying to take care of the needs of some of our friends while enjoying some leisure time with others. What’s left is very little of what I call “me time” – the part of the day when I can unwind in a hot bath with a good book and some candles, or watch a television show without being interrupted, or get my hands dirty working in the yard. Instead, I’m working, scooping litter boxes, folding laundry, or paying bills online.

So, here I am, a few short years from FORTY, trying to figure out how on earth I wound up this old in such a short amount of time. It freaks me out that my parents qualify for senior citizen discounts at local restaurants, and that my sister has a child turning eighteen this year. It also disappoints me that this far into my allotted years, I still can’t get legally married and don’t have any children to call my own.

Mrs. J always said that time passes faster the older you get, but sometimes I wish I had my own pause button so I could cling to my disappearing youth for just a little while longer.

A ‘new’ view of Hell

I’ve previously discussed here how the Pentecostal sermons of my childhood shaped the fears that I hold to this very day about spending an eternity in torment. Getting rid of that anxiety isn’t easy, but my view on the afterlife has slowly evolved over the years.

A Facebook friend shared a link today that contained an excerpt from an Easter message delivered by St. John Chrysostom (AD 347-407), an early Christian and Church father. Somewhere between the simplicity of the text and the complexity of the message, I found a way to lessen my worry about eternal damnation just a bit more.

Let no one grieve being poor, for the universal reign has been revealed. Let no one lament persistent failings, for forgiveness has risen from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the death of our Savior has set us free. The Lord has destroyed death by enduring it.

The Lord vanquished hell when he descended into it.

The Lord put hell in turmoil even as it tasted of his flesh. Isaiah foretold this when he said, “You, O Hell, were placed in turmoil when he encountering you below.”

Hell was in turmoil having been eclipsed. Hell was in turmoil having been mocked. Hell was in turmoil having been destroyed. Hell was in turmoil having been abolished. Hell was in turmoil having been made captive. Hell grasped a corpse, and met God. Hell seized earth, and encountered heaven.

Hell took what it saw, and was overcome by what it could not see. O death, where is your sting? O hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are cast down!

Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen! Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice! Christ is risen, and life is set free! Christ is risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead. For Christ, having risen from the dead, is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Christ be glory and power forever and ever. Amen!

It’s amazing how words written around 1,600 years ago can provide a new perspective. The complete (and refreshingly short) sermon is available here.

Dear John

The past week has been rather difficult to say the least. We lost one of our closest and dearest friends, and although his passing wasn’t unexpected, it still hurt an awful lot. I received the phone call Tuesday afternoon, so we rushed over and arrived just before the funeral home came to pick up his body. Because his funeral is being delayed until after his daughter finishes cancer treatment all the way across the country, those few awkward moments might prove to be a much-needed opportunity for some sense of closure.

John was a phenomenal man. Quiet, gentle, and always gracious, he was one of the most Christ-like individuals that I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Many so-called Christians fail miserably when circumstances require them to imitate the God-man, but it seemed so easy for John. Since his death, Honey and I have both declared our intentions of becoming “more like John” – a testament to how esteemed he was not only in our eyes, but in the eyes of pretty much everyone we ever introduced him to.

We met John through our church, and although I covered some of my misgivings about continuing to attend services in my last post, his death seems to be bringing us back to the place that we hesitantly entered almost five years ago. His wife asked that we accompany her to tomorrow’s service, and refusing is simply out of the question.¬†Will it be easy? Of course not, but it seems plausible that the church that enabled us to meet such a wonderful man must surely have some other surprises in store for the future.