The psalmist's phrase "I walk before the Lord in the land of the living" comes out of a context marked by a death: "the snares of death" and "the cords of death." There are, in fact, 13 references to life-threatening elements in this fairly brief Psalm 116: snares of death, pangs of Sheol, distress, anguish, save my life, brought low, death, tears, stumbling, greatly afflicted, consternation, death of his saints, my bonds. That adds up to a lot of trouble. This is our context. The land of the living is dangerous country. A lot goes wrong. There is a lot of trouble brewing out there and in here. Resurrection takes place in the country of death.
The land of the living is obviously not a vacation paradise. It's more like a war zone. And that's where we Christians are stationed to affirm the primacy of life over death, to give a witness to the connectedness and preciousness of all life, to engage in the practice of resurrection.
We do this by gathering in congregations and regular worship before our life-giving God and our death-defeating Christ and our life-abounding Holy Spirit. We do it by reading, pondering, teaching, and preaching the Word of Life as it is revealed in our Scriptures. We do it by baptizing men, women, and children in the name of the Trinity, nurturing them into a resurrection life. We do it by eating the life of Jesus in the bread and wine of the Eucharist. We do it by visiting prisoners, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, healing the sick, working for justice, loving our enemies, raising our children, doing our everyday work to the glory of God.
When I go through a list like that, the first thing that strikes me—and I hope you—is ...1
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