Love is Watching Someone Die

“Love is watching someone die, so who’s gonna watch you die?”

– Death Cab for Cutie, ‘What Sara Said?’

At Rivendell this past Sunday, we juxtaposed the Great Commission text with that of the Greatest Commandment that Jesus articulates in Matthew 22. Part of our discussion led to the issue of baptism and its importance to discipleship. Steve, Rivendell co-pastor, asked the question of how the church is to be different from the religious consumers that seem so prominant in the American church. I contributed by saying that somehow consumerism, in its secular and religious forms respectively, always seeks to enhance the individual self and fill the void that one sees in their own life. The church should be the alternative and somehow be a place that embodies the practice of “Come here and die”. What does this death mean? I think that is means that our agendas and dreams, what we thought made our lives true, must change to that of Christ’s. Mark Riddle said that participating in the kingdom of God was practicing God’s dreams for the world. I believe this is where baptism has its most vital role.

What if our message was really to “take up your cross and follow Christ”, essentially, die to your own agenda and follow God’s. Then baptism, the induction of the believer to the believing community, would thus be to let others participate in your funeral. It would be letting other people visually and physically participate in your death and realize that this death will lead to a wedding, a union with Christ and his bride. How odd is that? So maybe love is watching someone die, watching someone symbolically state that this life is futile without God in the way of Jesus. Maybe the church really loves people when it states that all must come before God and partipate in the imitation of the death of God’ s son and that only in his death and resurrection we find life. Death leads to life, not the other way around. Once again, Jesus turns all of our logic on its head.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Love is Watching Someone Die

  1. Ohmygosh! This is incredible. I will never look at baptism the same way again.

  2. Thanks for stopping by Cathy, I have enjoyed reading your blog, it makes me laugh everytime! Hey, I think I am coming over to watch LOST tonight! Yes!

  3. I like the connection with the whole community I see in this post. In my tradition, when someone (child to adult) is baptized, the particpants (there are no observers) are asked to renew their own baptismal vows with the newly baptized, and as witnesses we are expected to do all in our power to support them in their life in Christ

  4. I am reminded again and again how powerful these rituals are – how they remind us who we are (both as individuals and as a community) as well as how they reposition us before God and before the world in which we live.

  5. I realize this post is long ago and far away, but I found it while Googling that phrase “love is watching someone die.”

    I’ve found it deeply moving as well, but for a different reason. I’m not sure that the comparison to baptism is apt, but I’ll leave that for now. What I do want to say is that I think DCFC was getting at something I’ve seen a few times already in my nascent career, and will likely see many more times to come.

    What I think they are talking about is how hard death is on those left behind. I see families torn apart, not just by the mere fact of dying which a loved one is going through, but by the changes they see in the person dying. A patient of mine is dying now, and it is hard on her family because as her cancer destroys her brain, her personality is changing. She is becoming less and less the person they loved, and more and more a creature, very much in pain, whom they feel sorrry for but don’t recognize.

    Watching that, staying by someone who tells you she doesn’t know you and wants you to leave, is love.

    I think the comparison which might more profitably be made is that Jesus stands by us, loves us, even as we try, like Hosea’s wife, or Israel throughout the Old Testament, to forsake him. Irresistable grace, to use the Calvinist term, is love.

    I enjoyed your blog, thanks for sharing your thoughts with the world.

  6. Nathan,
    Thanks for stopping by. I realize that DCFC was articulating how one reacts to the death of a closed one and was most likely unconcerned with baptism. I decided to use the lyric not for its original message but for intentionally conveying that baptism is to die, and yet the most striking thing, as opposed to physical death, is that the church is called to celebrate the death of our old lives, our old patterns of thought and behavior that we so cherished but leads only to sin and death.
    We as the church are called, lovingly and prophetically, to ritually celebrate death. Jesus called us to “come and die”. What an odd message. And yet, in our death we find life and life abundantly.–>

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