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  • Revd Dr Simon Vibert

Oh death, oh death....

Thoughts on Christian death and Christian hope.

The unmentionable subject

It used to be said: The Victorians talked a lot about death, but never about sex, and the 21st Century does the opposite. Maybe that has changed. For the past year we have been used to briefings from the Government reporting daily death tolls from Coronavirus. And we have heard some harrowing stories about the impact of Covid-19, in terms of personal loss, and the terrible scale of the virus. We might laugh at Woody Allen: “I am not afraid of death, I just don't want to be there when it happens.” However, we humans do fear death.

Christian Death

I watch the neighbour’s cat stalking a sparrow. The bird is literally a claws-length away from a bloody end, flying away at the very last minute. Two seconds later it is back, pecking at the same patch of lawn.

The bird might not be keen on dying, but it does not seem to have that aching fear of death which is part of the human lot.

We fear pain (of course!), and we fear the unknown. But, I think there is more.

"It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:31).

There is a final day of reckoning, where we all will be judged by God.

We don’t like to talk about it; but we do long for a day of justice. And justice cannot happen without judgment.

The Bishop of Kensington, Graham Tomlin in The Times, 6th February 2021, wrote - It’s far too late to think about death when you’re dying — let’s do it now

Christian Hope

“Oh death, death, where is thy sting?” memorable words from Handel’s Messiah. Handel quoted the old translation of the Apostle Paul’s triumphant chapter displaying Christ’s victory over sin and death.

’Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin…” (1 Corinthians 15:55-56)

Paul does not fear death. He mocks death. Without belittling death’s power and its hold upon us, he can triumphantly say that “death has been overcome in Christ”! This is expressed well in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, by CS Lewis:

“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,

At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,

When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,

And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

As we slowly emerge from this pandemic, let us rebuild on the solid foundation of Jesus’ death and triumphant resurrection. He offers hope – not just for this life - but for the life beyond. We would love to help you explore the deep meaning of His great words:

"Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life." (John 5:24).


Revd Dr Simon Vibert is Vicar of Christ Church, Virginia Water, Surrey. Prior to that he was Vice Principal and Director of the School of Preaching at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. This article was posted first in his blog Simon is the author of various books including one published by the Latimer Trust



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