"We have accepted the heretical idea that the body will pass permanently away after death,
and that we will only re-appear as some disembodied wraith - but scripture will have none
Paul Marshall - Heaven is not my Home.
It's one of the most annoying aspects of life - you can spend hours looking for your keys, credit cards, passport (usually at the airport at the moment of check-in). When something is mis-placed, it's a nightmare.
Maybe that's why so many of us have problems with this time of year. Beneath the tinsel and the excess, we sense we're being dis-enfranchised from realities that we all have to address - genuine joy in life is always mixed with the truths concerning suffering, injustice and loss; a world that is scarred and constantly marked by our contrivance.
In the 40th Psalm, the poet speaks of something truly miraculous. He is lifted from the mire of his despair and desolation, from the crash of this broken world by God's unmerited mercy.
The rescue makes the writer realize something of great import - how foolish it would have been to place any confidence in those who seek to mis-place the realities of life (verse 4).
We can lie about ourselves (apt on the day defined by resolutions), our lives, our 'happiness' - we can most certainly act to mis-place the greater truths should they prove too inconvenient,
but we cannot really 'change our spots' or escape our skin. The moment when each of us finds ourselves in the desolation derived from our being fallen is surely ahead. The question is where do we go from there?
In a recent moment of ill-health, I was keenly reminded of the moment in the Gospels when Lazarus had died. Naturally, the end of the line had been reached and passed, but the entire event was changed because Jesus was present after this man was dead and buried. What transpired as a result entirely overturns our mis-placed understanding of sickness, death, mortality and the role of the body.
This same Jesus, risen Himself from death, stands at the beginning of this year and challenges us to reject illusion and meet with the living God, here amidst the pain and the joys.