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3.16.21


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Let’s pray together: Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun. Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. Father, we pray for the Germany, Barbados, Uruguay, Rwanda, China and the church in these countries as well as the lost. Thank you Lord for all your blessings Forgive us for doubting Your goodness Lift those who carry heavy burdens, comfort the bereaved, heal the sick, May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us; may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm; may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us; may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors. Amen Meditation For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's. Romans 14:8 Is it wrong to memorialize the dead? It’s one of the things that set humans apart from animals. Archeologists look to see evidence of honoring the dead as the threshold of modern humanity. In the bible, Abraham bought a field with a cave and buried Sarah in it. Joseph had his descendants bring his bones back to Israel. Jerusalem is still known as the city of David. These are all acts of remembering the dead by the living. In the New Testament, we know that the earliest Christians followed the Jewish traditions since they were culturally Jewish. During the first two centuries of the church there is very little information on how they buried their dead, but by the third century the church is growing and spreading at a phenomenal rate. In Rome, the dead had to buried outside of the city, the rocks that Rome are built on are tufa, a volcanic rock that remains soft until it is exposed to air and then hardens. This made it easy to delve into and yet very strong. In places there are catacombs with five levels deep. Lower class Romans, Pagans, Jews and Christians buried their dead in these catacombs and by the third century there are signs that allow us to discern who is doing the burying. They begin creating paintings and frescoes in the catacombs that depict Christ and other Christian scenes. John Dominic Crossan, Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies DePaul University, writes “And what's interesting is …they choose (to create images) of Jesus especially as the healer. He appears beardless, so he's a new, young god, as it were.... And what's extraordinary, is he'd have his hand …on the person he's healing. Now, nothing that I know of in the entire Greek or Roman world ever shows Asclepius with his hand on somebody he's healing.... (Asclepius was the god of healing in the ancient world, one of the great competitors, by the way, of Jesus, as early Christianity began, because he was a beloved god.) Jesus is not shown as a transcendental being, he's down there in the mud of human history with his hand on people's heads and shoulders”* Even more fascinating is that these catacombs had rooms with benches carved into them. It used to be thought that these were used for secret worship services, but Pagan and Jewish catacombs have them too. So what were they for? Meals with the dead. The ancient Romans would descend into the catacombs and have a picnic with the dead to remember them. This tradition has never fully passed away. The church has historically celebrated All saints day on November 1st and All Soul’s day November 2nd. “The Christian celebration of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day stems from a belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven (the "Church triumphant"), and the living (the "Church militant").”** All Saints Day was to commemorate the martyrs and saints while All Soul’s Day was to remember the faithful dead. So is it wrong to memorialize the dead. No. Is it wrong to cling to loss, idolize those who have died, behave as if our lives ended with them, Yes. Tomorrow we will continue to wrestle how do we honor the dead without idolizing them or our mourning. *https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/first/catacombs.html ** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Saints%27_Day


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