Just a couple of years ago I recall a TV documentary showing us the last few hours of a lady who had chosen to go to the Dignitas 'clinic' in Swtizerland in order to terminate her life. The image presented was of an ageing woman who had decided that her imminent and worsening frailty was not worth the effort of continuing to live, and she was apparently completely at peace with her own death. She lay in her hotel room with Mozart playing as she took the drugs that were to arrest her breathing and lead to her death.
What struck me however was that soon after her death the music stopped. The assissitant saw no need for the music to continue, a life had been extinguished.
Just this past Sunday I gave a short talk at our church on one of my favourite hymns-How sweet the name of Jesus sounds-written by one of my heroes. It was scribed by John Newton the former slave ship captain, who converted to faith in Jesus Christ and who eventually became a Christian minister for 16 years in the small market town of Olney where I have been in practice for 30 years. He is most famously known for his hymn, Amazing grace.
In the last two verses of How sweet...Newton says,
Weak is the effort of my heart
And cold my warmest thought
But when I see Thee as thou art
I'll praise the as I ought
Till then I would Thy love proclaim
With every fleeting breath
And may the music of Thy name
Refresh my should in death.
Ah, now that is lovely thought, May the music of Thy name refresh my soul in death. The lady in the Dignitas clinic was of the opinion that, when you're dead you're dead. She offered no hope beyond the grave. But the Christian goes into the apparently uncharted waters of death following one who has faced death and defeated it. The music doesn't stop, but grows and grows though a crescendo of joy that makes Handel's Hallelujah chorus seem like the faintest squeak of a mouse. This is one of the greatest privileges for those who simply place their faith in Jesus Christ.
'O death where is your sting? O grave where is your victory?'