Death as Absolute ‘Vanitizer,’ Except as Answered by Christ’s Resurrection

My question—that which at the age of fifty brought me to the verge of suicide—was the simplest of questions, lying in the soul of every man … a question without an answer to which one cannot live. It was: ‘What will come of what I am doing today or tomorrow? What will come of my whole life? Why should I live, why wish for anything, or do anything?’ It can also be expressed thus: Is there any meaning in my life that the inevitable death awaiting me does not destroy?

—Leo Tolstoy (A Confession), channeling his inner Qohelet, Ecclesiastes.

The answer: no, nothing, futility, or, as the book of Ecclesiastes itself puts it, a mere “striving after wind.”

Death is the ultimate “vanitizer.” Nothing escapes its finalizing, universal stamp of “pointless.”

That is apart from resurrection.

Enter Jesus. Welcome, Easter.

Grandma’s Memorial Service Reflection

Memorial Service for Helen Morris
First United Methodist Church
November 23, 2016

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Introduction

I feel incredibly honored (and yet undeserving) that grandpa has asked me to speak here for grandma’s memorial service. “Grammie” to me, of course; to others of you: mom, sister, wife, friend – but to all of us, a dearly loved and beautiful person. It has not escaped me the incredible privilege it is to be able to provide the reflection for the memorial service from grandma – what is the remembrance of her life; and that of such an incredible individual.

Grandpa has asked me to speak on what he and others often refer to in our Christians scriptures as “the love chapter,” that being the 13th chapter of Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth.

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Reflections on My Grandmother’s Passing

Last night after dinner my grandmother passed away.

We were close. But I think more than anything I’m sad for my grandpa, because he lost his life partner and best friend. He loved her so much. (They were that adorable old couple that’s more in love now than the day they were married.)


Death is an incredible reminder that things are not right in this world. Death is universally typical; but, as a Christian, it is my firm conviction that death is not “normal.” It is an intrusion into God’s good creation, a testimony to and result of humanity’s horrific plunge into deep-seated rebellion against a good God (what we as Christians call sin). And, apart from Christ’s return, it is something we will all face.

As the Biblical book of Ecclesiastes tells us, death seems to stamp the entirety of our lives up until that moment as “pointless.” Whatever was achieved, whatever good was done, whatever meaning was found, whatever joy was had, death puts a (seemingly) permanent end to it all.

But our hope — our only hope from death, the only hope my grandmother has in overcoming death — is the good news about this guy named Jesus, who, as the Bible tells us, is God become a human being for the very purpose that he might take upon himself this human predicament (death), face it square in the face, wrestle it down, and, through his own death on our behalf, deal death itself a deathblow, achieving resurrection-life through his own resurrection.

This is the gospel. This is our anthem as Christians: deliverance from sin and all of its nasty effects (including death) for all who lean wholly on Jesus for their rescue.


1 Cor 15; 1 Thes 4:13-18; 2 Tim 1:10; Heb 2:14; Rev 21:4.