Sunday, 24 May 2015

Anyway, what did St. Paul know when he wrote "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"

According to the New Testament book of First Corinthians (St). Paul wrote: "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?"  (1 Cor 15:55).

St Paul is,  of course,  waxing lyrical about his belief that the resurrection of Jesus Christ has de-fanged death, and that those who are "in Christ" die in the hope of their own resurrection to life eternal.

That's all well and good, I suppose, in the long term. But in the short term death has a vicious sting, and the grave is a dark and bleak place.

I think that when a person we love has died, we rush all too quickly to Paul's "words of hope".

I assert that death is friggin' awful.


My friend Bruce W died as a result of un-treated cancer.  He received Hospice Care during the last 48 hours of his life.

But he died. 

Even as his lifeless body was being moved out of his home the Hospice volunteer spoke to Bruce's partner, to Bruce's  son, and to we, Bruce's friends.

"At least"  she said, "he is in a better place".

I wanted to scream, but since I was not the chief mourner I refrained.

I wanted to say "what better place?" 

Was there a "better place" for Bruce than the house which he made a home; in the home he shared with his beloved partner Ben; in the home where his four children and their off-spring were always honoured and welcomed;  in the home where his many friends ate and drank at a gracious and hospitable table?


Becky W died on Saturday23rd May 2014 following the complications of the cancers which raged in her body.

She was a  retired  school-teacher, and a faithful worshipper at St. Boniface on Siesta Key. FL

Becky was as feisty as they come. She was utterly opinionated and could not be silenced.

She was so well beloved by the ageing gay men in our parish that I once told her that she was the "Queen of Queens".

Becky, the "Queen of Queens" died.

Is she in a better place? Lord only knows!

But when she lived, St. B's was the best place she knew.



On Saturday 23rd May 2015  Savannah H took her own life.  She was twenty years old.

Her mother, Jilly H, used to dog-sit for me.

Her grandmother, Janice D, has been a faithful and skillful paid section leader in the St. Boniface Church Choir.

What is there to say when a twenty year old woman commits suicide?   

St. Paul is NOT HELPFUL.

There is a half chance that I will be asked to officiate at a Memorial Service for Savannah.

I will NOT assert that death has no sting (sorry St. Paul). 

Nor will I assert that she is in a "better place" (it's much too soon for such pieties).

I WILL encourage Savannah's nearest  and dearest to shake their fists heavenward,at the monstrous horror of her tragic death.

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