In the spring of 2010 archaeologists unearthed a 3,500-year-old door to the afterlife from the tomb of a high-ranking Egyptian official near Karnak temple in Luxor. This door was meant to take the official from death to the afterworld.
A man called Jack found a different door to the afterlife. He taught English literature at Oxford University and spent many evenings walking the gardens of Magdalene College. And it was one evening while walking with his friend John, that Jack discovered his way.
His door found a way into his writings as a “wardrobe” through which his characters could enter Narnia, a kind of medieval version of Paradise. The Chronicles of Narnia still remain a best selling book for children. Jack, or C.S. Lewis as we know him today, went on to become one of the great apologists for the Christian faith in the 20th century. His book “Mere Christianity” continues to be an inspirational text for those seeking a strong Christian foundation for their life.
Last week here at Mount Hebron Presbyterian Church we were talking about the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus. The sermon for the day “The Hour of Darkness” can be found here. This weeks readings in “The Story” focus on His resurrection. C.S. Lewis wrote of death in this way; “If we really think that home is elsewhere and that this life is a ‘wandering to find home,’ why should we not look forward to the arrival?”
Thinking about our own mortality is not usually a comforting notion. Yet the Christian faith has as it's central feature a narrative of death and resurrection. Because Jesus lives, we believe we also shall live in the nearer presence of God, when once our mortal coil is broken. Eternity, for a person of faith, is not something to be feared, but a final destination where we find a welcome, and all the strains and struggles of our present existence are no more.
It is Jesus who gives us that hope. He moves us from a Friday and Saturday of death and disillusionment to a Sunday of victory. Our way into that victory is through a door. Jesus Christ. Jesus said of Himself, “I am the door; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture” (John 10:9). All of the resurrection stories promise us similar things.
In another garden, another Magdalene, Mary, was looking for Jesus’ dead body to anoint, but it was missing from the tomb (John 20). Two angels speak to her, but she is so cast down she fails to recognize them. She keeps talking about her “Lord” and how He had been taken away. It is only when Jesus comes to her and calls her by name that she recognizes the reality of the resurrection.
We all have our Fridays and Saturdays. Days that are dark and days that are lost. In those days when we can’t find the door, we can still do what Mary did. Keep calling Jesus “Lord.” Keep crying out and keep on looking for Him.
The realization that He is with us and always there for us may not dawn in an instant. But when it comes, it is as though He is calling our name. Though His love and His forgiveness, we can find the door to an eternity of Sundays.
It was when I spent some time living in West Virginia that I first came across this Bluegrass Classic that captures the hope of eternity; “I'll fly away,” performed here by Alan Jackson. Great song to both sing and play. If that don't get your feet a tappin' then I don't know what will. Yee-Hah. Enjoy :-)
Rev. Adrian J. Pratt
(Based on a mediation by Randee Frazee)