Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from a Jacobite and Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Theme: Advent-Revelation to Joseph,
Baskiyamo Dr. Ann Kadavil Special, Death and Dying

Volume 6 No. 388 December 9, 2016
Baskiyamo Annie Kadavil Special

Funeral Service Details, Dr. Ann T. Kadavil

Dr. Ann T. Kadavil
February 6, 1932 - December 3, 2016

Baskiyamo of Very Rev. Abraham Kadavil Corepiscopos, Baltimore, MD, USA
Gone to her heavenly abode on December 3, 2016

Funeral Service Details:

Wake (Viewing)

Friday, December 09, 2016, 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Church of the Resurrection
3175 Paulskirk Drive
Ellicott City MD, 21042

Funeral Service

Saturday, December 10, 2016, 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Church of the Resurrection
3175 Paulskirk Drive Ellicott City MD, 21042
Chief Celebrant: HE  Mor Silvanos Ayub (Metropolitan of Knanaya Archdiocese in North America & Europe)

Interment (Burial Service)

Saturday, December 10, 2016, 1:15 pm - 1:30 pm
St. Johns Cemetery
3480 Saint Johns Ln Ellicott City MD, 21042
Service Held at: Church of the Resurrection

Special Memorial Service in Kerala (Parathode)

Sunday, December 11, 2016
Location: Salem House, Parathode (the ancestral home of Dr. Ann Kadavil)

Organized by:

St. George Jacobite Syriac Orthodox Church, Parathode;
St. George Malankara Orthodox Church, Parathode, and
St. Mary's Bethlehem Church, Thrikothamangalam.

The service will include a prayer meeting as well a memorial service to reflect on the services of Dr. Annie Kochamma. All are invited.

About Kadavil Annie Kochamma (Dr. Mrs. Annie T. Kadavil)
[Editor's Note: Baskiyamo (Priest's wife) is addressed as Kochamma in Southern Kerala and Ammayi in North Kerala. If you call Annie Kochamma, Ammayi, substitute Ammayi for Kochamma.]

Annie Kochamma has finished her race and is called to her eternal home on Friday, December 9, 2016. She is survived by her husband, V. Rev. Abraham Kadavil Cor Episcopos, Director of Pastoral Care Services and a Senior Clergy member of of the Malankara Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church in North America. She was a distinguished member of the St. Thomas Syriac Orthodox Church Parish in Westminster, Maryland, USA.

Kadavil Achen and Kochamma

Dr. Annie Kadavil is also survived by her son Dr. John Kadavil (Jyomie) (FDA), her daughter in law Mrs. Elizabeth Kadavil (FDA) and grandchildren Josua, Rachel, and Rebecca. They all live in Baltimore, Maryland.

Annie Kochamma was born on February 6, 1932 as the daughter of Late K.O. Thomas and Late Annamma Thomas of Parathode, Kannanthanam Family in Kottayam. She had three brothers - Late K.T. Joseph, Late K.T. Thomas and Late K.T. Mathew. She had three susters, viz., Late Mrs. Theyyamma John (Karinganamattom), Late Mrs. Chinnamma Baby (Chirathalatt) and Mrs. Mariamma Kuriakose (Chennikkara, Kottayam).

From her childhood, Annie Kochamma wanted to serve in the medical field to serve the fellow human beings. She obtained admission in Kottayam Kurichy Homeo Medical College and graduated from the college with distinction. After graduating from the medical college, she started Salem Homeo Clinic at Parathode (near Kanjirappally, Kottayam Dist.) Her clinic was the beacon of hope for the people in the surrounding area. She has also served as the secretary of Kerala Christian Homeo Association. She was well liked and regarded by her patients and colleagues alike.

After coming to USA, Annie kochamma and Kadavil achen settled down in Baltimore, Maryland, Kochamma has taken this opportunity to obtain higher studies in Homeopathy. Kochamma was very active in charitabley organizations and spiritual organizations. She has served as the General Secretary of Akhila Malankara St. Mary's Vanitha Samajam. In this position she has worked very closely with LL His Beatitude Baselios Paulose II Catholicose. Prior to becoming Sreshtta Catholicose, HB had served as the vicar of St. George Orthodox Church, Parathode and Metropolitan of Kottayam Diocese. She was highly regarded by Baseliose Bava for her hard work and service to the Holy Church. This was a Golden Era from Vanitha Samajam under the capable leadership of Kochamma and the guidance of thirumeni.

Kadavil achen-family

As the wife of Kadavil achen, Annie Kochamma had to balance the family, career and church service. It is a very had task. Achen and Kochamma also had the enviable task of being associated with the Archdiocese (Malankara Archdiocese of the Syrian Orthodox Church in North America aka MASOC- NA) from its earlier days and served it well. Kadavil achen has served as the Diocesan Secretary and Clergy Secretary several times. Annie Kochamma was the silent person behind achen in all these work. She and achen also worked very hard in securing a building for St. Thomas Syriac Orthodox Church, Baltimore.

Kochamma was under treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD for several months. The doctors released her to home care. The service for sick (Kantheela Srushusha) was given to her by His Eminence Yeldo Mor Theethose, Archbishop of MASOC-NA when she was released from the hospital.

On hearing the departure of Annie Kochamma, Theethose Thirumeni, who was on the way to India, called Kadavil achen and expressed his deep condolences. Thirumeni has praised Kochamma for her deep faith in God and for her charitable and humanitarian services and for the spiritual services to the Holy Church. His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Aphrem II, the Patriarch of the Antioch and All the East, and Supreme Head of the Universal Syriac Orthodox Church has also called Kadvil achen and expressed his deep condolences. Others expressing their condolences included Rev. Fr. Geevarghese Jacob Chalissery, Secretary of MASOC-NA; Very Rev. Bobby Joseph Cor Episcopos, Clergy Secretary; Chandy Thomas, CPA, Archdiocesan Treasurer; Simi Joseph, Archdiocesan Jt. Treasurer; and Dr. Jacob Mathew, Chief Editor of Malankara World.

We express our deep condolences to the family of Annie Kochamma and pray that God will enable them them to overcome this loss and find it fit to place her in the bosom of Abraham, Issac and Jacob.

"A death is not the extinguishing of a light, but the putting out of the lamp because the dawn has come."

Adapted From Information Provided by Biju Cherian, New York

Baskiyamo Dr. Ann Kadavil - A Very Special Person

by Dr. Jacob Mathew, Chief Editor, Malankara World

I can still recall the exact context and location when I heard the shocking news that Annie Kochamma has passed away. It was on last Saturday night (Dec 3, 2016) hours after Kochamma has gone to her heavenly abode. I was in my cousin sister's home in Delaware for visiting my aging aunt. My cousin had invited my friend Korah Mani also for dinner. Mani (known commonly as Markosekutty) was in IIT Kharagpur when I was studying there too. With only a handful of Keralites in IITs those days, we all knew each other well. Mani, well connected in Orthodox circles, asked me casually during the conversation, "do you know Kadavil achen in Baltimore?" I said, "yes." He said his wife passed away earlier that day and he just got word of it.

Annie Kochamma at home in 2015 - MW Photo by Dr. Jacob Mathew
Annie Kochamma, at home, May 2015
Photo for Malankara World by Dr. Jacob Mathew

I was so shocked by this news that I could not believe it. I thought he was pulling my leg. (In fact, I didn't believe the story till I had an independent verification from another source on late Sunday after I returned from Delaware.) I had seen Kochamma a few months back in the Arcdiocesan Family and Youth Conference in Emittsburgh, MD. Achen was very sick at that time; he could not walk. So, for the first time in his life, he decided not to come for the entire conference; but attend just the panel discussion on Marriage he had organized for the Pastoral Care Ministry. He was heavily leaning on Kochamma for support as he could not walk well. Kochamma was very frail. The sight of achen leaning on Kochamma for support was a sight to see! Kochamma and myself had a chat. I never thought that this was the last time I am going to meet her in person.

Kadavil Achen at home in 2015 - MW Photo by Dr. Jacob Mathew
Kadavil Achen, at home, 2015
Photo for Malankara World by Dr. Jacob Mathew

Yes, as detailed in the obituary above, Kochamma had a full life. She accomplished quite a lot in her 84 years of life in this world. If we can accomplish 10% of what she accomplished in her life, we will be very successful. She was soft spoken and was a very gracious hostess. Both achen and Kochamma welcomes everyone who comes to their home as if they are the most important person in the world. She didn't want to say about her or her accomplishements, which were many; but want us to talk instead. She was the model of humility. Like St. Mary, whom she respect as the Theotokos very much, she was very humble. No wonder both achen and Kochamma are the most popular persons in the archdiocese. They are always surrounded by people whenever they are in public.

Annie Kochamma with Dr Shila Mathew at home in 2015 - MW Photo by Dr. Jacob Mathew
Annie Kochamma with Dr. Shila Mathew, MD at home in 2015
Photo for Malankara World by Dr. Jacob Mathew

During Holy Qurbana, the priest reads a favorite Promeon pleading to God, "Give us a good Christian Ending." I am sure Kochamma has heard it many times. I am glad that kochamma got a good ending, without having to suffer through long periods of pain and suffering. Yes, she had set backs earlier in her life; but that only had strengthened her faith in God. Jesus asked her to take her cross; and she gladly did. She was rewarded for her loyal faith and discipleship with a perfect ending - a death at home with Kadavil achen sitting beside her and her son, daughter in law and grandkids nearby.

When I see Kochamma, she reminds me of Saint Mother Teresa, a very favorite Saint of mine. Mother Teresa once said,

"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."
(Mother Teresa)

How true! I wonder if that was why Kochamma was more interested in listening than speaking? And when she spoke those precious few words, everyone paid close attention!

One of my favorite passage from bible is Ecclesiastes 3.

Solomon came to a point in his life where he had all the wealth he could possibly want and anything he imagined he could have, yet he was empty. As he reflected on life he saw the cycles and the contrasts. "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1). The first time I read about this was in Readers Digest when I may have been less than 10 years old.

There's a Right Time for Everything

There's an opportune time to do things, a right time for everything on the earth:

A right time for birth and another for death,
A right time to plant and another to reap,
A right time to kill and another to heal,
A right time to destroy and another to construct,
A right time to cry and another to laugh,
A right time to lament and another to cheer,
A right time to make love and another to abstain,
A right time to embrace and another to part,
A right time to search and another to count your losses,
A right time to hold on and another to let go,
A right time to rip out and another to mend,
A right time to shut up and another to speak up,
A right time to love and another to hate,
A right time to wage war and another to make peace.

(Ecclesiastes 3:1-9 (The Message))

Nathele Graham explained it well

When we are young, we assume we have many years of life ahead of us. Most people work toward goals...a bigger house, fancier cars, more gadgets. We earn money and then spend it foolishly on things of this world. We have hopes and dreams for what we want to accomplish in life and, like Solomon, we learn that all the money in the world cannot satisfy us. Sometimes our dreams change or have to be put on hold, and that can be discouraging. There are seasons in life and if we don't change with those seasons we become frustrated and angry. God's purpose for our life may be different than what we have in mind and if we live opposed to God we will never be satisfied.

Our time on earth is short and all of the pursuits of our life will one day be as vanity or vapor. "A time to be born, and a time to die..." (Ecclesiastes 3:2a).

When we are on our deathbed, we will wonder what all we planned to do and could not accomplish. Jesus said, if you win all the world and lose our spirit, what have we accomplished? When we go to Jesus, what will we answer when he asks 'why we should inherit the heaven'. Kochamma will not have any problem. She knew her priorities and purpose in life. She had a rich and useful life that was pleasing to God and went to meet her savior confidently. She also gives us an opportunity to examine ourselves. If we die today, what will we tell Jesus (or Peter) when we reach the pearly gates? Kochamma's life is worth emulating, in this context. She provided us a powerful example to follow.

Most of us have no clue how hard the life of a Priest's wife is. A few years ago, when we were planning the Issue 121 Souvenir Edition of Malankara World Jouranl featuring women, I asked Malankara World Advisory Board about recognizing some outstanding women in Malankara Community who has done great service to the church and community. I was looking for unconditional service. One person told us that we should also recognize a baskiyamos. According to him, although a priest is in charge of a church, the church is run smoothly because of the hard work of Kochamma. The priest will be busy with sacramental duties and tasks in the sanctuary, most of the time, or presiding over meetings (General Body Meetings, Church Managing Committee Meetings; Diocesan activities, etc. etc. that he may not be privy to what is happening among the laity. Kochamma is in the midst of people. She knows the pulse of the congregation from fellow women and makes achen aware of the issues that need to be tackled or taking care of them herself. So, the baskiyamo plays an important role in the smooth functioning of the church, although she is hardly ever given credit for it.  Most people are not even aware of what all a baskiyamo does. We have few articles in this issue discussing what baskiyamos do. They are often described as the person without a job description. She has to balance the responsibilities of career, family, church and community. We will discuss more on baskiyamos in future editions. Her work is very hard; only very selected few can do it efficiently like our Annie Kochamma.

Most of us are afraid of death. No one is ready to die, yet. But we do not know when we are called by our savior to our next location. Some of the best understanding of death and after-life can be gleaned through our prayers in the funeral service. Here are two in the opening service:

Celebrant: O Lord, make this soul, that has been set free
from this temporal life and has departed from this sorrowful
and painful world, be worthy to be guided by
Your holy angels to the heavenly mansions that
abound in delight and rest until the day of resurrection,
on which he will meet You with confidence, Father,
Son and Holy Spirit forever and ever. Amen.


O Christ, who has promised resurrection to Adam's
mortal children, we beseech You to raise and quicken
Your servant who has slept trusting in you.

O Christ, the King of glory, to Whom all the hidden
things are known, reveal not my personal offences
when all the secrets are made manifest.

Christ, Thy are truly the key to paradise which opens
the gates of heaven; open, O Lord, the gate of Your
mercies to Your servant who has slept trusting in You.

Depart, brother, and sorrow not because the Lord will
make you to dwell in His light, and the cherub who
guards paradise will prepare the path for you.

May the faithful departed, who believed in the Trinity,
be worthy to receive Your promise which was made to
the thief of the cross.

Make Your servant, who has departed with trust and
confidence in Your compassion, be worthy to stand at
Your right hand on the day when Your majesty is
made manifest.


Most of us think that our job is to make life in this world comfortable (by accumulating possessions.). But the life in this world is full of sorrows. We will never find true happiness in this world like Solomon discovered. We have to endure pain and suffering. We should long to reach heaven, where there is no pain, sickness or "cross". This is because we are built to be in communion with God. Our objective is to reach heaven as soon as possible.

The foolish are afraid of death as the greatest of evils, but wise men seek it as a rest after their toils and as the end of evils.
[St. Ambrose of Milan]

David, in Psalm 18 (17), talked about staring into death when his enemies were chasing him and King Soul very close to capturing and killing him. He realized there was no place to go except to God. He described i this way:

The sorrows of death surrounded me,
the sorrows of hell encompassed me;
and in my affliction I called upon the Lord,
and He heard my voice from His holy temple.

I will love Thee, O Lord, my strength:
the Lord is my firmament, my refuge, and my deliverer.

( Psalm 18: 5–7, 2–3 )

David describes in detail how Lord answered his prayer in the rest of the psalm. He felt like he got a second life.

Yes, death is real. For those prepared to meet the savior, like our Annie Kochamma, it is a joyful occasion. She will be going there and waiting for the eventual reunion with her family and friends for eternity.

We call baskiyamo as 'Kochamma' - meaning she is the second mother. We feel the pain of her leaving like we feel the pain when our own mothers go to their eternal abode. The sadness is real. It is not easy to bid farewell. But we must. So, in the mean time, let us pray for Kochamma's soul. Let us also pray for the grieving family, especially achen, jyomie and his family. Let us pray that God will give them strength to overcome this terrible loss.

Goodbye Kochamma. You are truly special. We will never forget you.

IV. Featured: Death and Dying

'….and Death is Gain' - A Meditation on the Christian View of Death

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

October and into the early part of Advent is also a part of the Church Calendar when we begin to ponder the last things: death, judgment, heaven and hell. In the Northern hemisphere the days grow shorter and in regions further north, the once green trees and fields shed their lively green, and after the brief golden gown of autumn, a kind of death overtakes the landscape. Life changes, we grow older and one day we will die.

It is fitting at this time that we ponder the passing glory of things and set our gaze on heaven where joys will never end. There is a beautiful prayer that captures this disposition:

O God, who makes the minds of the faithful to be of one accord, grant to your people to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, among the changes of this world, our hearts may there be fixed where true joys are.

So welcome to November. Summer is past and Winter beckons. Ponder with me that this world is passing. And I have a question to ask you. How do you see death? Do you long to one day depart this life and go home to God? St. Paul wrote to the Philippians of his longing to leave this world and go to God. He was not suicidal, he just wanted to be with God:

Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, for that is far better. Yet that I remain in the flesh is more necessary for your benefit.
(Phil 1:20-23)

I am struck that, these days, almost no one publicly speaks of their longing to depart this life and be with God. I suspect it is because we live very comfortably, at least in the affluent West. Many of the daily hardships with which even our most recent ancestors struggled have been minimized and even eliminated. I suppose that when the struggles of this life are minimized, fewer people consciously long to leave this world and go to heaven. They set their sights and their hopes and prayers on having things HERE be better. "O God, please give me better health, a better marriage, a financial blessing, a promotion at work…." In other words, "Make this world an even better place for me and I'm content to stay here, rather than to long to go there to heaven."

Longing to be with God was more evident in the older prayers, many of them written just a few generations ago. Consider for example the well known Salve Regina and note (especially in the words I have bolded) the longing to leave this world and be with God:

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our Life, our Sweetness, and our Hope. To Thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To Thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious Advocate, Thine Eyes of Mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show us the Blessed Fruit of thy Womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

The prayer acknowledges in a very realistic and sober way that life here can be very difficult. Rather than ask for deliverance from all of it, for this world is an exile after all, the prayer simply expresses a longing to come to heaven and be worthy to see Jesus. It is this longing that I sense is somewhat absent in our modern world, even among regular Church goers.

When was the last time you meditated on heaven? When was the last time you heard a sermon on heaven. I understand that we all have a natural fear and aversion to dying. But for a Christian there should be a deepening thirst for God that begins to erode the fear and aversion to death. St. Francis praised God for Sister bodily death which no one can escape (Canticum Fratris Solis). And why not praise God for it? It is what brings us ultimately home.

As for me, I will say it: I long to leave this world and go home and be with God. I am not suicidal and I love what I do here. But I can’t wait to be with God. I don’t mind getting older, because it means I’m closer to home. Another day’s journey and I’m so glad, one day closer to home! In our youth centered culture people (especially women) are encouraged to be anxious about getting older. As for me, when I hit forty, I said, "Hallelujah, I'm halfway home (err…as far as I know)!" Now as I get ready for fifty I rejoice even more. I'm glad to be getting older. God has made me wiser and he is preparing me to meet him. I can’t wait.

A couple of years ago a woman here in the parish walked into a meeting a few minutes late. It was obvious she had been rushing to get there and entered, quite out of breath. No sooner had she entered than she fell headlong on the ground. She had died instantly of a heart attack, was dead before she hit the ground. We rushed to revive her, but to no avail. God had called Wynette unto himself. I remember saying at her funeral, "For us it was one of the worst days of our life, but for Wynette it was the greatest day of her life." God for whom she longed had drawn her to himself. She had died hurrying to God's house and you know I had to quote the old spiritual that says, O Lord, I done what you told me to do….unto that morning when the Lord said, "Hurry!"

Even a necessary stopover in Purgatory cannot eclipse the joy of the day we die. There will surely be the suffering that precedes our death. But deep in our heart, if we are a believer, must ring forth the word: "Soon!" An old spiritual says, "Soon I will be done with the troubles of this world; going home to live with God."

So I ask you again, do you long for heaven? Do you long to depart this world and be with God? You say, "Yes, but first let me raise my kids!" I know, but do you rejoice as the years tick by and goal becomes closer? Do you long to be with God?

I close with the words of Psalm 27:

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD….My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, LORD, I will seek. Do not hide your face from me.

Death is Not the End of Our Story

by Dr. Ray Pritchard

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:1-5

Of all the fears that plague the heart of man, none is greater than the fear of death. It is our greatest fear, the sum of all other fears.

We are afraid to die.
We are afraid of what happens when we die.

Death is the fundamental human problem.

Several years ago a friend sent me an email containing these lines from a poem called "Gray's Elegy" written in a country churchyard in England:

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave
Awaits alike the inevitable hour
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Life is short and so uncertain. "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes" (James 4:14b). Moses said to the Lord in Psalm 90:5-6, "You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning-though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered." It is sometimes said that nothing is certain in life except death and taxes. But that is not wholly true. A clever man with a good lawyer can find a way around most if not all of his taxes, but no one escapes death. As George Bernard Shaw remarked, "The statistics on death have not changed. One out of one person dies."

Worldwide, there are approximately 56,600,000 deaths each year. That works out to 4.7 million per month, 155,000 per day, 6,500 per hour, 107 per minute, and 1.8 per second. The Greek playwright Sophocles said it this way: "Of all the great wonders, none is greater than man. Only for death can he find no cure."

Does death win in the end? On this side of the grave it's hard to tell. Left to our observations, we don't know much beyond the familiar words of Ecclesiastes. There is "a time to be born and a time to die" (Ecclesiastes 3:2). Visit any cemetery and you can't really tell much difference between the Christian and the non-Christian. Oh, you can intuit something by reading the markers, but the dead lie buried side by side, six feet underground. There they are, all grouped together, young and old, male and female, rich and poor, famous and infamous, churchgoers and nonbelievers.

Or so it seems.

Death is not the end of the story for those who know the Lord. The Bible tells us what lies ahead for those who know Jesus. As we come to 2 Corinthians 5, we discover wonderful truths that give us hope as we face death with all its dark fears.

This passage as a whole is one of the most difficult among all the things Paul wrote, and yet once you get past the difficulties, there is a simplicity about it that attracts the believing heart. Even if we do not understand every detail, the first impression it leaves with the reader gives hope as we look ahead to the end of our earthly journey and wonder, "What's next?" Paul tells us in very picturesque language that we have nothing to fear, that no matter how we die or when or where, and no matter what may be our physical condition at the moment of death, we have a promise from God that death itself cannot break.

I. The Certainty of the Resurrection Body

"Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands" (verse 1).

Surely the most important part of this verse comes in the first three words. "Now we know." Death itself confronts us with many mysteries. No one who reads these words can say with certainty how much longer they will live. In the last few days I celebrated my 58th birthday. Will I live to celebrate my 59th? The odds are in my favor, but the odds are nothing more than actuarial calculations. My father never lived to be 59. Every single breath we take is a gift from God. I've been breathing more or less continually for 58 years and not thinking much about it, but it's true. Every single breath is gift from the Almighty. I am not guaranteed another day, much less another year.

As to what happens after we die, science has nothing useful to tell us. The great researchers have no certain knowledge about what happens a minute after we die. We will not get the answer from philosophy or from history. If you visit a vast cemetery, all you know for certain is it is full of dead people who once were alive. Try as you might, you cannot divine from studying the dead what happens when we die.

There is speculation, and then there is revelation. Paul says there are some things we can know with certainty.

1. We live in a tent.

I am not much of a tent man myself. I spent my last night in a tent almost 30 years ago when our oldest son was 2 or 3 years old. On a visit to Yosemite National Park in California, we pitched our tent and went inside for the night. But Josh did not want to go to sleep. He fussed and cried and made so much noise that nearby campers shined their lights in our direction. We ended up vacating the tent and spending the night cramped in our Ford Pinto. That was the end of my camping career.

Our bodies are like tents. They wear out, they sag, they expand, they wrinkle, the joints get creaky, the arteries harden, gravity pulls everything downward, the heart slows down, the eyes grow dim, the teeth fall out, the back is stooped, and the arms grow weary. Our bones break, our muscles weaken. The body bulges in the wrong places. We brag about our strength but a tiny microbe can kill us. Sooner or later we grow old and our bodies begin to break down. Eventually they stop working altogether. No amount of Vitamin C or Siberian Ginseng can change that fact. At best, we can only slow down the aging process; we cannot delay it forever.

As we age, we pay more attention to things like diet and exercise. Fitness is in. We've got Weight Watchers and Jenny Craig and Curves, and we've got runners and bikers and marathoners and people who lift weights four times a week. You can do the P90X workout or the "Insanity" workout or you can do Tae Bo with Billy Blanks. You can go to Bally's or Gold's Gym or to one of those 24-hour gyms where you can exercise at three in the morning if you want to.

Now all of that is good. Exercise is good and good nutrition is even better, and it would help all of us to get in shape and stay in shape. But I have a bit of news for you. Your body won't last forever. You can eat all the low-carb ice cream you want, but your body will still fall apart in the end. Did you know your body disintegrates all the time? The cells of your body are actually programmed to die. The scientific term for this is apoptosis. And each day the average adult loses 50-70 billion cells. That's not a misprint. Before the sun goes down today, between 50 and 70 billion of your cells will die. That's 350 billion cells a week. No wonder you need to lie down and take a nap. You're falling apart even while you read this sermon.

2. We will one day trade in our tent for a building.

Think about the difference between a tent and a building. Tents are temporary and flimsy, easily torn, and meant to be replaced. A building is strong, built on a foundation, and not meant to be moved.

Someday we will give up our tent and replace it with a building made by God himself. That one fact tells us something important about death.

Death is not the end.
Death is not reincarnation.
Death is not evaporation.
Death is not annihilation.

Death is a trade-in.

One day we will trade in our broken down bodies for a new body. Look what Paul says about that new body.

It is from God.
It is not made with hands.
It is eternal.
It is heavenly, not earthly.

That's what Paul means when he says, "We know." Lots of things we don't know about the future, but this much is certain. We won't have to live in tents forever. Someday our "tent" will be replaced with a "building" made by God.

II. The Nature of the Resurrection Body.

"Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life" (vv. 2-4).

What will the coming day of resurrection be like? We can find three answers in these verses.

1. It is like putting on an overcoat.

When Paul says we long to be clothed, he uses an unusual Greek verb that means something like "to be clothed upon." It has the idea of putting on an overcoat, which is literally a coat put over (or upon) the body. Paul looks forward to the day when Christ returns and thinks to himself, "I can't wait for that day to come because I will put on my new resurrection body like I put on an overcoat."

2. It is the answer to our groaning.

We groan because of a job we hate. We groan because of unfulfilled dreams. We groan because our bodies break down. We groan because our marriages break up. We groan because our children go astray. We groan because our friends disappoint us.

We groan because we live in a fallen, mixed-up, messed-up, broken-down world, and we ourselves are broken down. So we look for a better day and a better place, and we dream of a better world where there is . . .

No more cancer.
No more abuse.
No more hatred.
No more hurricanes.
No more crime.
No more sadness.
No more night.
No more sickness.
No more death.

3. It removes our deepest fears.

Among all the fears associated with death, one of the greatest must be that we will die alone and forgotten. As sad as death seems, how much worse it must be to die in some distant place with no one around to give you comfort. How blessed we are if we can die with our loved ones gathered by our side. Oftentimes that is not possible because death comes unbidden to our door. We may end up dying in some lonely place despite our best plans.

What is the current condition of believers who die before Jesus returns? The clearest thing we can say is that they are "with Christ" and "with the Lord" in heaven. Paul says as much in verses 6-8. We don't have to worry about our loved ones who died in Christ. They have passed into the presence of the Lord Jesus himself. That, I think, is all we can know for certain, but it is enough. The commentaries discuss at length the question of the "intermediate body," but that need not occupy our minds at this point. Paul says clearly that the dead in Christ will rise first when Christ returns (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). That's the moment when those who die in Christ receive their resurrection bodies. Between now and then it is enough and more than enough to know that they are "with the Lord" and will be with him forever.

When we die, we will not die alone because we will be with Jesus forever. And if we should live to see Christ return, we will receive our resurrection body at that very moment. Either way, we have a hope that death cannot shake.

One question remains. Paul, how can you be so sure?

III. The Guarantee of the Resurrection Body.

"Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come" (v. 5).

1. We were made for something better than this.

Sometimes we look at the world around us and wonder, "Is that all there is?" To which Paul answers a resounding, "No!" We were made for something better than the sadness we see in this world.

We will have a new body - not the same as before.
We will have a new body - not just renovated or reconstructed.
We will have a new body - but our identity will not change.

We are made for a new life and a new body and a new existence with the Lord. God himself has made us for this very purpose. Our future does not hang on our own desires but on the eternal purpose of God who called us to be his children. We are saved by an eternal love that will not let us go. Not even death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

2. God has guaranteed our future resurrection.

Here, then, is a hopeful thought for anyone who has buried a loved one who died in the Lord. How do we know that we will see them again? The answer is, it all depends on where we look. You can go to a cemetery, take a lawn chair with you, and sit there with some sweet tea and a ham sandwich. Go and wait as long as you want. You'll see lots of death because that's what cemeteries are all about. Lots of people being buried; not many being raised from the dead. In fact, the last resurrection took place 2000 years ago.

So how do we know there is a coming day of resurrection? There are two solid answers to that question.

1. He raised his own Son.

The first answer is that God raised his own Son from the dead. This is the objective ground of our faith in the coming day of resurrection. If God would not leave his Son in the grave, he will not abandon those who trusted in his Son. Death cannot win in the end because our Lord conquered the grave.

2. He gave us the Spirit as a sacred deposit.

Paul mentions the second answer in verse 5. God gave us the Spirit as a "deposit." Some translations say "down payment" or "earnest." When you buy a house, you put down a sum of money called "earnest money." It's a small amount that legally binds you to pay the full amount later. That's what God has done through his Holy Spirit. The Spirit who indwells us is God's "down payment" on our future resurrection.

God signed on the dotted line and said, "I will raise from the dead all who have trusted in my Son." And then he made the down payment through the gift of the Holy Spirit.

It's as good as done.
It's going to happen.
You can take it to the bank.

What should this truth do for us today? I think primarily it changes the way we look at death. We have it all wrong.

We think we're going from the land of the living to the land of the dying.
But that is not true.
We're going from the land of the dying to the land of the living.

By the way, what is required for a resurrection? You've got to die first! No death, no resurrection. And unless the Lord comes very soon (I think he may and I hope he does), that will be the way most of us will end our earthly journey.

Someway, somehow, someday we'll die. And whoever is around at that moment will take us to the mortuary where the undertaker will do what he does to prepare us for our burial. We'll be dressed up and cleaned up and made up to look semi-natural, but we'll still be dead. Then they will take us in for the funeral service where someone will say some (hopefully) nice words, people will remark on how they miss us, they will sing a bit, say some prayers, and then the box will close and we'll be placed in the ground.

I say that not to alarm anyone but to state the simple fact. We're all going to do some "box time" eventually. The man who wrote this wonderful passage in 2 Corinthians 5 returned to the dust of the earth a few years later. Every Christian who has ever lived has died eventually. So far that's the report from the cemetery.

But, thank God, it's not the last word. If you have a loved one who died in Christ, you should go out to the grave and have a little talk. Maybe it's your grandfather who loved the Lord and is now buried in the grave. Just go out there and say this with confidence, "Grandpa, I miss you, and I'm glad you are with the Lord right now. But I want you to know that God is not finished with you yet. He's got some more work to do."

Then maybe you can read this passage out loud just to remind yourself of what Christians really believe.

Bright and Cloudless Morning

In early 2009 we buried my dear friend John Sergey who was over 90 years old. It was my privilege to speak at his funeral and again at his graveside service. When I stood by the casket, I reminded the folks that besides being a mighty preacher of the gospel, John also loved to play and sing gospel songs. I quoted a verse from one of his favorite songs:

On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise,
And the glory of his resurrection share;
When his chosen ones shall gather to their home beyond the skies,
And the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there.

That is our ultimate hope. We're not looking for some hazy view of heaven where we float around on clouds all day. We're looking and waiting and longing for that "bright and cloudless morning" when the Lord returns and the dead in Christ shall rise.

It's going to happen.
You can bet your life on it.
God has promised it.

When Christ saves you, he saves all of you. Every part of you is saved and every part of you will be delivered from sin. It is not soul salvation that we believe in but whole salvation. The resurrection of the body is the final step in our salvation:

Step #1: We are saved from the penalty of sin.
Step #2: We are saved from the power of sin.
Step #3: We are saved from the presence of sin.

I ran across a wonderful phrase from the Pulpit Commentary that lifts my heart every time I read it. There will be "victory on the last battlefield." Life is a series of battles for all of us ,and we all "take it on the chin" sooner or later. But in the last battle, the struggle with death, there is victory for the children of God.

"Death, be not proud," wrote John Dunne. God will not let death win. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow expressed the same truth in his poem "God's Acre." Here are the first and last stanzas:

I like that ancient Saxon phrase, which calls
The burial-ground God's-Acre! It is just;
It consecrates each grave within its walls,
And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust.

With thy rude ploughshare, Death, turn up the sod,
And spread the furrow for the seed we sow;
This is the field and Acre of our God,
This is the place where human harvests grow.

What an image that is: "the place where human harvests grow." Go to any graveyard where Christians are buried and there you will find "God's acre." Take off your shoes. It is holy ground. Human harvests are growing there. I close with the words of the Puritan writer Thomas Watson: "We are more sure to arise out of our graves than out of our beds. Oh! How precious is the dust of a believer!"

Death will not have the last word for Jesus has conquered the grave. Because he rose, we too shall rise. In that faith we take courage to live for Christ with reckless abandon because death is not the end of our story.


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