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Fr. Gwilym Henry-Edwards | Anglican Priest

I have seen babies being born and I have seen dead bodies, too. Bodies drowned or broken in accidents, old worn out bodies and young bodies destroyed by cancer. I have seen a dead baby, too badly shaped to come to full term, and the tiny foetus of a child miscarried at three months. I have seen people dying, relatives, friends and strangers, but death I have never seen.

As a Christian I can sincerely say the Apostles Creed, which ends, “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.”

However, the Christian view of death is and should be a mystery, something hidden from our understanding. No one knows what happens to our mind and our spirit, although we know that our mortal body will decay.

The Old Testament refers to Sheol or the Pit as the place of the dead where there is no remembrance of God and where God does not go. The New Testament speaks of a new Jerusalem which is the dwelling place of God and the destiny of the faithful.

St Paul, in his letters, says that we are sown as a mortal body and we are raised as a spiritual body. The perishable becomes imperishable and the mortal puts on immortality.

For myself I cannot imagine the spiritual body. St John says that God is spirit and that those who worship God must do so in spirit and in truth.

If we understand that the spirit is the inspiring force in our lives (we might describe it as the Spirit of Australia, or the Anzac Spirit, or the Holy Spirit or the Spirit of the Saints) it is then this spiritual connection with others which forms the Kingdom of Heaven and which we call the Communion of Saints. But death is still a mystery and I only know that whether I live or die, I am in God’s hands. There is no safer place to be than that.


Editor's note: Fr. Gwilym Henry-Edwards is Parish Priest of Port Adelaide, South Australia, and formerly, Rector of St Luke's Anglican Church in Enmore, Sydney. 

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  • A refreshingly honest view - Pam Cossey (Facebook)
     
  • Beautifully handwritten also - Rosada Hayes (Facebook)