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Exploring more than life and death

THE DAY before I wrote this I heard Peter Gabriel’s song Solsbury Hill on the radio.

That night over a good red I told my husband that that was the song I wanted played at my funeral.

Now apart from completely categorising me as a new romantic, this song says a lot about my understanding of life and death.

Mr Gabriel wrote the song about a choice he was making – about moving into a place where he might find “home”.

The last lines are: “Hey,” I said. “You can keep my things; they’ve come to take me home.”

There is a sense of stepping out of an old skin, something that is not adequate for the task and stepping into a new tomorrow – unknown, unseen, undetermined – but a life that captures the fullness of existence that is available to us.

This means I don’t find categories of “this life” and the “afterlife” meaningful. Instead, I find the deeper biblical explorations of time and the nature of creation to be more revealing.

The creation story as God speaks existence into being: the cosmic consciousness to be found in the prologue of John’s Gospel.

Such passages are not recipes or blueprints for how creation works, but rather explorations of the nature of our existence as created beings.

Karl Barth’s claim that Christ is at the centre of history also feeds into this – our historical existence is not seen as linear, but rather always looping back into the heart of our revelation of God through Jesus Christ.

Add to this the amazing explorations of the nature of time and the search for a “theory of everything” that were produced at the end of the last century by Stephen Hawking and the like, and a series of questions about birth, death and life that are captured in a linear framework do not seem adequate.

My understandings of life and death are about time and existence looping in and out of Christ’s life, death and resurrection – which means there is no “after” life – instead there is life.

Life for all, here and now, yesterday and tomorrow – life in all its fullness – life that can be found when you leave your things and turn for home.

Rev Heather den Houting is minister with the Kenmore Uniting Church in Brisbane