Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:51-57 (NIV)
As I write this, I am at a Homegoing Service at church tonight. In fact, the minister used the above passage was used for the text for the words of encouragement.
I wrote this piece five years ago, asking what happens to us when we close our eyes for the last time. Where do we go from here?
Tonight’s title comes from the announcement made on the local commuter trains when the train’s coming to the next station (stop). This mundane announcement is also a question that has plagued humankind from its dawn; and will plague humankind until its end. Again, where do we go from here? What’s our “next stop”?
The above passage from the Apostle Paul was a rebuttal to those at the church in Corinth who believed that death was it; nothing afterwards. Paul wanted to remind the Corinthian church that the dead in Christ will be instantly changed from their mortal-easily perishable-selves into immortal, imperishable selves. That death is not the final answer.
For us, the next stop is not some dark, abysmal place where we just “die”, or float around for eternity in some netherworld. No, I believe that we’ll be changed into our true selves-the selves that God created us to be, but have been corrupted by our egos and world here on Earth. I believe that all, not just Christians, will be with God. That our next stop will be in the presence of God-not flitting around on clouds with wings and halos, or gazing upon some “beatific vision” for all eternity (yawn), but as active beings fully part of the Divine and living on a higher plane of existence eternally.
We live today. However, when we transition (sounds better than “die”) we’ll truly begin to live. Let’s live with the knowledge that we-like God-are eternal; and that when we close our eyes for the last, it won’t be the end but the beginning.
That’s the “next stop”.