This week’s Sermon Scripture Galatians 5:13-18
Doreen’s life has been marked by an inimitable dedication to healthy lifestyle and positive outlook. She has refused even basic pain medications over the whole of her life and has an almost obsessive focus on organic foods. The result of this life choice has been an energetic, vital and positive life. She’s a joy to be around.
Imagine her family’s shock when a recent bout of histamine reaction to the oil-based paint in the newly remodeled bathroom led her to the emergency room where a CAT scan revealed that her entire body is riddled with cancer. Within hours, it was obvious that the next response was to call in hospice.
During my first visit with her in Sutter we recounted her surprise and the shock of discovering that she will soon see her last days. She will have to receive pain meds because the pain will be overwhelming. In the face of this she is amazingly vibrant. She is a fighter, and I suspect she will resist this cancer to her last breath. But she is also a realist. She knows this is probably it.
She re-iterated a phrase she has said often to me. “Pastor, you can’t live successfully unless you die successfully.” She has discovered the fullness of this week’s Scriptural essence; that love is a dying act.
Galatians 5 reminds us that when God gives us freedom, it is not freedom to do as we please but freedom to die in the act of loving God and others. This is the great discovery of the cross. More than atonement theology that says that a judgment God must be satisfied, to have sin paid for, but rather God loves us so much that he showed us how to die so that we may live. He has shown us firsthand that even death means birth. Dying to our own interests means opening ourselves up to the love of others. Dying to our agenda means opening ourselves up to new adventures. Dying in this life means life forever with Him.
There is grace in dying and Doreen is leading the way for us all.