We have almost reached the end of the year. The calendar year is dying as we look on and the church year comes to an even earlier end as in a few weeks we begin the season of Advent and a whole new liturgical cycle begins. This dying of the year is the opportunity for minds to turn to the ‘end things’. These were traditionally enumerated as four; Death, Judgement, Heaven and Hell. All things and persons come to an end and the end of all brings judgement we are told. The world too will come to an end though no-one knows when and general judgement will follow. How do we prepare?
It is good to acknowledge that death is part of life. We need to accept that it is inevitable and it is necessary and wise occasionally to reflect on these things that so that we may live life to the full. Our attitude to death informs our attitude to life. We reflect on these realities, not in any morbid way but in order to make sense of life and to be able to deal in a wholesome way with the reality and inevitability of age, deterioration, disease and death.
The Christian is counselled to live so that it doesn’t matter when the end and judgement comes – so that your name will be found in the ‘book of living’; so that you will be in a state of grace; so that you will not be woken to shame and everlasting dis-grace. We remain in a state of grace when we retain the friendship and favour of God.
We are told to read the signs of the times. Just as we take our cue from a rapidly dying nature in remembering our dead, so we are told to read the signs of what is happening around us. It has always been counselled that we should not be so immersed in the world so much that we put our faith and trust in the things of the world. Like the leaves of autumn; like the heat of summer; all things pass away. Only the Word of God does not pass away. Prepare by your whole life; not just at this high point of preparation and remembering.
“You show me the path of life,
the fullness of joy in your presence,
at your right hand happiness forever”.