Isn’t fall beautiful? This year, the brilliant colours as the leaves have changed have given more opportunity for people to enjoy leaf peeping. The deep reds, the vibrant oranges, the bright yellows – all of the leaves are displaying their glory in dying.

Fall is a time of year where we remember that there is life and there is death. And, as someone wise has said to me, there is a beauty in dying well.

Death is not a natural part of the creation. When God made the world, he declared it to be good (see Gen. 1). But death came into the world through Adam and his sin (1 Cor. 15:21). It became commonplace – so common that we fail to appreciate how much we are conditioned to the Fall (the theological description for death entering into the world). So many occupations exist because death entered into the world. We have emergency services, medical professionals, companies providing life-saving equipment, pharmaceutical personnel and companies providing medications, and many others who are at work because of the Fall. Our culture is obsessed with avoiding the effects of the Fall – we have skin care products, Botox injections, hair colouring supplies, all given to us as a faux “Fountain of Youth” that we pursue. We want to avoid the Fall, yet our bodies feel the effects of the decay of creation. As we age, our bones ache, our muscles groan, and our energy levels deplete. It is unavoidable – the Fall has a radical grip upon us.

As Christians, understanding that the world and all that is in it has been subjected to the curse of death helps us to make sense of everything around us. Why do things go wrong? Why are humans obsessed with finding cures? Why do we hate the effects of a global pandemic and all the horrors it brings? Because we are made in the image of our Creator. We long to fix, to work, to create. But as people who cannot ultimately overcome the effects of the Fall, we must strike a healthy tension between working to alleviate the suffering in the world (as people who long for redemption ought to do), but resist the utopian idealism that we can overcome the Fall. It is not merely the outward world that is wasting away; humans are deteriorating inwardly as well.

But the good news that we have is that the Fall has been overcome by the One who tasted death for us. The One who was nailed to a tree is the One who took the curse for us, was buried in a tomb, and overcame the grave. The sting of death has been swallowed up in the resurrection of Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 15:50-58).

So, we work to alleviate the sufferings of those around us here and now, but we do so remembering that the ultimate alleviation of suffering comes by trusting in the One who tasted death for us (Heb. 2:9). Our groanings remind us that we were made for a better world, a new creation (Rom. 8:22-23). It’s coming (Rev. 21:1ff), and there are already whispers of its arrival here and now (2 Cor. 5:17)!

There’s a glory in living this life well – even when we ache and groan and wait. For in living, and even dying, well, we are pointing to the reality for which we were made – a life that never decays, never hurts, never ages, and never loses heart.

So, live in light of that Day this day!

Prepare your heart for Sunday by reading the passage and listening to the songs we’ll sing.