Before I married Rachel (thirteen years ago this year), I used to rent a room in Wrexham. One of my housemates, Michael, was from Ghana, and like me, he was a committed Christian. When Rachel and I became engaged, Michael said to me, “Let me pay for your hotel on your wedding night!” But there was no way that Rachel and I could accept this offer! You see, Michael from Ghana, had family in Ghana, and I knew that every month some of his pay went overseas to his family!
But Michael persisted. Then one day, Michael said to me, “Adam, there are three important occasions in your life: your birth, your marriage, and your death. But your marriage is the only one you will remember! So you must celebrate it in style! Let me pay for your hotel on your wedding night!” It was then that I accepted Michael’s offer. I realised his offer was genuine and significantly, I realised his offer was driven by his cultural beliefs and Christian values to be generous. It would be rude for me to refuse.
Michael paid for us to have two nights in the Llyndir Hall Hotel, in Rossett. A very nice hotel! Michael’s generosity will remain with Rachel and myself I am sure for the rest of our lives.
“There are three important occasions in your life: your birth, your marriage and your death. But your marriage is the only one you will remember!”
It is a pearl of wisdom that has stuck with me. Not the most helpful comment I am sure to those who do not marry, and if there is a criticism to be made of our culture, I would suggest that we could do better at accepting people who live, be it by choice or not, a single life. I suspect Michael’s advice rings true that you will not remember your birth! We can see the truth I am sure in Michael’s final comment – “You won’t remember your death!” – Though I wonder, if our deaths are the gateway to new life with Christ in heaven, maybe we will remember our deaths? (A hypothesis that can’t be tested here unfortunately!)
This month marks Holy Week.
If however there is one birth that the world has continued to remember throughout human history and if there is one death that the world can and will continue to remember too – then it is the holy birth of Jesus at Christmas and the holy death of the same Jesus (the single and unmarried Jesus) on Good Friday – God’s Friday.
The wonder of Jesus’ holy death however is that for both Jesus and the Christian, death is the not the end. The writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament teaches that Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin” (Heb. 4:15). Peter speaking in Luke’s Acts of the Apostles, on the resurrection of Jesus said, “But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.” (Acts 2:24)
The essence of the Christian gospel is that Jesus because of his love for us and because he was the one who lived with no sin, he is able to forgive us our sins completely. In dying on the cross he paid the price and buried our sins in his death, yet because he had no sin he could do nothing but rise from the dead! As the risen one who died, he is able to be our Lord and Saviour, a leader and guide for through life and the one who can give to us eternal life – life that is worth living for both today and always.
I am convinced that Jesus’ death and resurrected life the world will never forget. Jesus’ death and new life, means that we can own a death and birth that we can never forget too – a death to our sin and selfish ways of living and resurrection to a new and generous life with Christ.
The new and generous life that I think of today is how Christ transformed my old housemate Michael from Ghana’s life, that he was willing to live and work in the UK and support his family abroad and help Rachel and I celebrate our wedding day and begin our marriage in style.
How great is the Christ who transforms peoples’ lives for the better and gives us new life that we can live and remember forever too.
Join us this Easter! In Christ, Adam
Rev Adam Pawley