An 1880 epitaph on a grave in Nantucket, Massachusetts reads: Under the sod and under the trees lies the body of Jonathan Pease. He is not here, there's only the pod: Pease shelled out and went to God.
The way the ancient people viewed the universe has influenced the Biblical images of the afterlife. For them, the earth was flat. The stars, the sun and moon in the skies were all fixed inside a great “Superdome.”
God’s throne was above the “Superdome” where the Almighty looked down upon the earth.
This is why we still speak about going “up” to heaven or going “down” to hell. They viewed Heaven and Hell as places. Although we learned at an early age in our religion classes that God was everywhere, our religious art pictured God localized in a place, surrounded by Saints and Angels.
Maybe heaven is not so much a place but a state or a different dimension. Heaven is being with God face to face. Since God is everywhere, Heaven could be everywhere.
In the next life, we can explore all of God’s creation. We can meet interesting people, and “keep in touch” with our loved one here on earth.
When Jesus went to the tomb of his friend Lazarus, he spoke to Martha and said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
She answered, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
Jesus asks that same question to us. Do we believe that those who accepted Jesus as the resurrection and life will never die? If we do, then death is going from one life to another life. It’s like being in one room that is familiar to us and going through a door (death) into a room where we have never been.
I recently visited a widow shortly after her husband’s death. She gave me a copy of a poem someone had given her. Canon Henry Scott-Holland, 1847-1918, a priest at St Paul's Cathedral in London wrote the following poem entitled, “Death Is Nothing at All.” (Slightly different versions of this poem can be found online.)
“Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
“Call me by my old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way that you always did. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
“Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was; there is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just round the corner.
“All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!”
We are connected to our loved ones who have passed through the “door” to eternal life.
Posted on Fri, November 15, 2013
by Associated Press