READ : 1 Corinthians 15:51-57
For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised. (v. 52)
First Corinthians 15 bears witness to a God who not only comforts us in the face of death, but is actively doing something to defeat it. The trumpet blast signals not just creation’s re-birth, but also the “death of death, and hell’s destruction.” Paul turns it into a kind of taunt when he asks, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
John Donne’s well-known sonnet, “Death, Be Not Proud,” takes a similar tone:
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so …
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more: Death, thou shalt die.
Donne had reason to resent death’s arrogance. Much of his preaching spanned the years in which London was ravaged by the plague. By the time he was forty-five he had lost his wife and five of his children. No wonder, then, if this poem – like 1 Corinthians 15 – takes on a note of hard-won triumph.
Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!
Almighty God, help us to know that not even death can separate us from your love.
Listening option: Brahms’ Requiem, Movement 6.