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Hebrews: The Pastoral Jesus

The Pastoral Jesus

"This is not to say that death is to be actively sought, though; martyrdom in a Christian context never involves seeking death. But it does mean that we can be faithful unto death, and do with certainty that the Pastoral Jesus has already given us the gift of life that transcends the actual lived days and moment of our lives.

"It seems to me that that this can affect the way Christians approach the controversial topic of end of life care – both medically and pastorally. As those who work in hospices can tell us, not all death is defeat, and not all death is bad news. Sometimes, death is a blessing and a gift to be taken and treasured, rather than an enemy to be avoided at all costs. Sometimes, the cost of not dying is too high. And I wonder if those of us who have encountered Jesus in such a way as to come to a realisation that our own deaths are not the final word on our lives; can offer a constructive and hopeful perspective on those who are living with the imminence of their own death.

"I know that there are strongly held views amongst Christians, on both sides of the argument, relating to the topic of assisted dying, and I’m not going to argue a particular side this morning. But the stories from there that have struck me as especially pastorally significant have been those of people in Oregon USA who went through the process of requesting the option of assisted death after their terminal diagnosis, but who chose never to use it; because knowing that it was an option was enough to help them cope with their final weeks.

"The analogy here, it seems to me, is that a changed perspective on death, can profoundly affect the way we live."

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