14th August 2020

“Our faith is a death-and-resurrection faith”, Desmond Tutu often reminds us. Three recent communications have made me realise this afresh.

The first is an email from an old friend – “old” in both senses of the term, as our association goes back nearly 50 years, and she has no inhibitions about admitting she’s 88! She was puzzled why the churches, among all the many things they’ve been saying about Coronavirus, seem to have had nothing to say about death and the life to come.

The second is from the other side of the world: an Australian Anglican priest much involved in social issues but equally concerned why churches appear afraid even to mention death, let alone the hereafter.

The third is a newspaper article by journalist Madeleine Davies who has written a book about her experience of bereavement and her Christian faith. She quotes a recent survey of teenage attitudes which finds that “while religion, faith or God evinced little curiosity, questions about death and the afterlife came up ‘time and time again’”, and that during the pandemic “questions about our mortality and what may lie beyond it have become more urgent than ever for young people”. Maybe it’s because Coronavirus comes as an unexpected threat cheating people of the life which they’ve been led to expect is theirs – and young people especially feel so. In which case the church has a huge pastoral and evangelistic responsibility to make clear that Christianity is a death-and-resurrection faith, which accepts death as an inescapable reality but nevertheless the way to the glorious fulfilment of all that our living, loving God intends for us.

Keith Clements