Since I stepped down in October of 2014 from my ministry of 30 years at Discovery Christian Church I have been reading and thinking a lot about aging, dying, and death. At the age of 63 I thought those were some things it would be good for me to learn about.
A few years after retiring from Discovery we moved to Texas to be close to our grandsons. After a few months of attending our new church I was given the opportunity to join the church staff as Pastor of Senior Adult Ministry. That position intensified my thinking and reading about aging, dying, and death.
Since November of 2018 I’ve been sitting on a Christian Century cover story about a smartphone app called WeCroak. Those who get the app are notified five times a day (at different times) of the same thing: Don’t forget, you’re going to die. While the message is true, it’s not something I want or need to be reminded of. Unless Jesus returns first, we all are going to eventually die (see Hebrews 9:27).
Death is something everyone thinks about from time to time and something many think about more often as they age. The Covid-19 pandemic has probably increased thoughts about death among those who are older.
What reminded me of this unneeded app was a visit earlier this week Jan and I had with an 85 year old man in our church who was recently put on hospice care. From the day we first met him when we visited what became our church home he reached out to us and always made us laugh.
During our visit in his home earlier this week he was still upbeat, gracious, and funny. One of the great things about hospice care is the goal of minimizing pain and making the patient comfortable. As I have said many times following such visits, our visit did as much for us as it did for our friend.
Ten months after the issue with the cover story about the death reminder app, Christian Century had an issue with the cover story “Preparing to Die: The conversation no one wants to have.” The headline of the article was We need to talk about death followed by two opening sentences: “It’s not as if it’s a big secret that we’re all going to die. It’s just that for many of us, most of the time, it seems like an event that’s going to happen to someone else, some hypothetical me in the future.”
I guess it is appropriate and needed for us from time to time to be reminded of and to think about death. Death is not pleasant, although it is sometimes a blessing, but it is real. And it is probably good to sometimes be reminded it is real.
When talking about death people are often asked about being prepared and ready for it. As a Christian my answer is that I am prepared, but I am not ready. What about you?
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