Editorial – September 2016

An inclusive Christian community in Auckland, New Zealand

Editorial – September 2016

From here to Eternity

One of the guests attending the 50th wedding anniversary of Nan and Kerr was Allison, who had participated with me in one of the Hospice North Shore support groups as her husband’s caregiver.  I was dismayed to learn that Peter had passed away two months earlier.  What impressed me was her composure and serenity in spite of her recent loss.  She explained to me that she was convinced of Peter’s continuing presence arising from three occurrences following his death, the first and second prior to his funeral when on a heavily overcast day his casket in the chapel was struck by a sudden ray of sunshine and following his committal a dove flying overhead releasing a white feather that drifted slowly in her direction.. She then knew that Peter was still watching over her.

There are many doubters of the promise of life after death, who challenge such events on the grounds of superstition or mere coincidence in spite of many references in Holy Scripture of the promise of life ever-lasting and the second coming of Christ.  Such attempts to deprive the bereaved of their belief in a heavenly presence of the departed is regrettable and can result in much anguish and grief when the Redeemer’s promise of life eternal is one of the cornerstones of our faith.

I am privileged to have been given access to the writings of the Rev Dr Jac Muller, Andre’s late father, an eminent academic scholar and theologian.  In his book Die Lewe na die Dood (Life after Death) he quotes numerous references in the Old and New Testament that provide reassuring promises and a prescription of the spirit’s journey on the conclusion of human life in the physical body.  Written in the Afrikaans language it lends itself to translation into English, as it deserves wider interest of study to better prepare us for death and the release of the soul on a heavenly journey.

Malcolm entrusted me with a collection of important documents that record the history of our congregation and incidents in its life of our community and the members who preceded us.  Among it was a seven year old copy of SPANZ that carried a lengthy article on the teachings of John Calvin.

The doctrine of Predestination has been a subject of much dispute on its validity and meaning.  Some critics have misinterpreted its real purpose that contradicts the teachings of the Catholic Church on the entitlement to salvation based on good deeds and standing in the community of believers.  It should not be seen as precluding sinners from entering the Kingdom of Heaven.  The reformer assures us of God’s mercy without human interference to obtain entry.  This is reassuring to prepare us for death in the knowledge that our failure to live life by God’s commands may not prevent us to achieve divine pardon and life hereafter.

As we are saddened by loss of loved ones or faced by the consequences of a terminal illness we can be assured by the promise of God’s fair judgement in spite of our transgressions and failings as human beings.

Ralph