Devotional article for The Greybull Standard
and The Republican Rustler
The melancholy of autumn, and the paradox of the beauty of death
With autumn falling upon the world around me, as it does every year, the same sense of melancholy falls upon me as always at this time of year.
Autumn marks the end of summer. That is how autumn stands out in my mind. The end. Death. Plants die, and the leaves fall. Before they die, though, their colours turn, and so autumn comes with a beauty of its own. But even that beauty comes with a touch of melancholy, as does the peaceful acceptance sometimes given to people who know that their own death is approaching. For the beauty of the turning leaves is the beauty of their death. Not to mention that their beautiful colours are a signal that soon I shall have to rake them and bag them so as to get them off my lawn.
I am aware that there are those for whom autumn is the high point of the year, because autumn in their minds represents hunting season more than anything else - which, of course, also involves an element of death, except, perhaps, in the case of bad hunters. So, in a sense, I suppose, it is fair to say that even for them, the beauty of autumn is the beauty of death.
The Christian faith also knows of a beauty of death. Not that the Christian faith considers death itself beautiful, or even a natural part of life, for it does not. Death is evil. Death is the wages of sin. And God Himself hates death, as He hates all other evil. He is all about life. And He has had His holy Apostle Paul refer to death as "the last enemy to be conquered".
The Son of God teaches His Christians that when they can make peace with death, it is only because death for them is not really death, but rather something else. Death is an enemy that has already been conquered. "He who believes in me, although he dies, yet shall he live.", He says. And: "Whoever lives and believes in me shall never die." Christians do not die. What we call "dying", when it comes to those who believe in Him and belong to Him, is actually being "swallowed up by life" and taken into that fullness of life which is His, and which He will share with us.
Death itself holds no beauty; except for the one death, which was the most dreadful death of all: His own death into the fullness of death, under the wrath and judgement of God against our sin. That death has the greatest beauty of all. For it is in that death God shows the fullness of His love for us. And it is in that death He has conquered death for all who believe in Him.
Pastor Jais H. Tinglund
Grace Lutheran Church, Greybull/Zion Lutheran Church, Emblem