Thursday, February 19, 2009

Death and Taxes

"God is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living." Mark 12:26

I remember a story told to me by an undertaker friend. He was about to get married and all of his friends, also undertakers, took him out for a night of fun. As many young men do at these gatherings, he had a bit too much to drink, but also had been wise and arranged for a designated driver. Since he was the groom to be, his friends made sure he was exceptionally un-sober. They were successful and he quickly fell asleep, or passed out (depending on the story teller) on the ride home. His friends made a detour to the mortuary, picked up a hearse and proceeded to strap the groom to be on a body board and zipped him into a body bag, leaving the top of the zipper undone so he would have air. Then they put him in the back of the hearse, drove it to his house and left him there. When he finally awoke the next morning, early light filtering through the drivers window, dazed and confused, he thought he had passed on, the surroundings being all too familiar to an undertaker. He knew where he was and what had happened - he knew all the signs. Fortunately his friends had kept watch nearby, and when he was finally awake, they freed him from the bag and the binding, reassuring him that he was indeed still among the living. They had a good laugh and tremendous hangovers.

Jesus is confronted by folks who intellectually know about the law and the resurrection, but they fail to understand the difference between knowing the signs and living relationship. They wanted to trap Jesus in right and wrong, while Jesus knew God intimately and knew that God thrived among the living and that death cannot hold back the love that God has for us all. The testers of Jesus wanted to know about taxes and death, and Jesus wanted them to know about God's love. God's love which is more constant and reliable than even death and taxes.

Many folks are anxious in this season of taxes and financial down turn. Today, I want to take care of the inevitable, but focus on God's love for me and for others. We are not alone nor abandoned, even when we are doing our dreaded taxes. Even when life ends for us, God continues, and we continue in God's love. May today, no matter how dreaded the task we have ahead, may we rejoice that God is indeed among us, loving us beyond our brokenness, loving us among the pain and toil ahead, loving us at all times into new life. May we rejoice in a God who comes among us, bearing our burdens and wiping away our tears.

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