Life, Death, and Resurrection

Pastor Matthew Best
6 min readMar 9

These three words make up a central tenet of our faith. But do we really grasp what it is we are saying when we say we believe these things?

The easiest one may be life because we are living. We think we know what life is. We are most familiar with it after all. But are we? Do we live life to the fullest? Or do we block of parts of life? Do we wall off parts of life that we prefer not to experience? Do we compartmentalize portions of life?

What is life after all? Isn’t life a full range of things — some pleasant and some not so pleasant. Life is composed of joy and suffering, happy and sad, sickness and health, good and bad, a full range. In fact, it’s more than all of that because it’s not just opposites. It’s more like a scale that keeps shifting. It’s never an all or nothing situation. Our culture wants us to believe that we live in some kind of all or nothing world, a sort of A or B only type of world. But that world doesn’t exist. It never has. That kind of simplicity is unrealistic — a fantasy. Or actually a nightmare. Who would want to live in a world where the contrast is so stark that crossing a line puts you into one option or the other without any complexity or perplexity? Without a third or fourth or any other option? Without the possibility of seeing the unity of both options, and that maybe, just maybe both are wrong and right at the same time?

What is life? What does it mean for the church? And what do we assume about life? One unspoken assumption that I think exists about life in the church is that churches and congregations are supposed to live forever and that churches and congregations that close or die are somehow failures. That’s the unspoken assumption. You can hear it whenever conversation comes up about a congregation that is talking about closing. You can also hear it in a different way in the pride of a congregation when they talk about being open for 150 or 250 years — like they are somehow beating death.

But what of Paul’s congregations — none of them exist today. Were those congregations a failure? I don’t think they were. They were lively and Spirit-filled. They carried out the mission. They existed for a time. They were the very definition of life.

And like all things that live, their time of life came to an end.

See, we struggle with the second word of our three word tenet — death. We don’t like the word. If we are honest and vulnerable, we would say that there is a sense of…

Pastor Matthew Best

My name is Matthew Best. I’m an ELCA (Lutheran) pastor who attempts to translate church and churchy stuff into everyday language.