Bledsoe Baptist Association
Saturday, May 25, 2019
Strengthening churches as they execute the Great Commission

  

 

 Dr. Mike Pennington, Director of Missions

Goodbye Death—Hello Resurrection

 

Dear Bledsoe Baptists, Thanks to your amazing love and generosity, I am experiencing the renewal and refocusing of a one-month sabbatical. Thank you again! Be blessed by the following testimony.

Yours for proclaiming our Risen King!

Mike

One of the consequences of having been sick enough to die once myself is that I am now much more interested in any celebrations regarding being raised from the dead than I once was.

For some years, I prepared for Easter by attending a Good Friday service and watching the cross go out the back door, its ominous and unsettling black veil flowing in the breeze, trying to summon up the courage to imagine and to face some semblance of the sense of loss the disciples must have felt on that day, trying to come to grips with what it means if there is another word after good-bye, and what it means if there is not. Being close to being draped in black and carried out the same door myself has, shall we say, made the whole thing a bit easier for me to imagine.

I was in the hospital around Easter, and the doctors gave me a pass to go to church on Easter morning. My sister came to pick me up and help me get there. Sitting in the pew that morning, barely two blocks from the hospital where I was told I might well have been dead instead of alive this Easter morning, it came to me that the resurrection is a theological concept that may well be ignored unless one’s death cannot be.

It follows that forgiveness is not much of a concept without something for which to forgive and be forgiven. Healing has no meaning in the absence of illness. Peace is no treasure at all to those who have known no war and no strife. Saying hello has no joy in it without the saying of good-bye.

I am coming to believe that the thing God said just before "Let there be light" was "Good-bye, dark." And that Noah could not say hello to the rainbow without first having said goodbye to the world as it disappeared beneath the flood. And that something deep and mysterious about saying good-bye from the bottom of the pit made the hello that Joseph spoke to his father all those years later all the more wondrous. "Good-bye, Egypt" turned out to be another way for the Israelites to say "Hello, Canaan."

"Good-bye, Jesus of Nazareth," whispers Mary through her tears at the foot of the cross on Friday afternoon. "Hello, Lord of the Universe," she murmurs to the one she mistakes for the gardener on Sunday morning. (Between the Dreaming and the Coming True, Robert Benson)