Death Talks


We Have begun a new Easter series at Newsong entitled Memento Mori, this 15th Century saying was popularized by a certain group of monks. It basically means, “Remember your mortality.” To put it in its most raw form, “Remember you will die!” Each day the monks in this particular monastery would go out to the cemetary and dig a shovel full of dirt and say to the next monk, “Memento mori” as they passed on the shovel. They were in affect digging their own grave plot. (Imagine the size of the hole after a few years of this!)

If we were to put this ‘MM’ phrase into today’s vernacular, it might be something like this: “Make sure to put death in your day-timer.”Yup, death is one appointment you and I won’t skip out on. Get used to it dude! We might miss our doctor’s appointment or purposely miss out on our dentist’s appointment, but no one misses death’s appointment!

So yeah, ‘Memento Mori!’

I have no intention for this to be a morbid discussion. Not everyone is into death talks. True for me and especially true for people in their 20’s and 30’s who rarely think about death, let alone discuss death. Death is usually discuuseed in hush tones when somebody close to us dies and we are forced to talk about it. But we will try to steer the discussion as much as possible to the art of living and dying well. It is an art!

John Wesley used to brag about Methodists… he said, “Our people die well!” I like that claim. I want to say the same thing about Newsong’s people. In order to die well, we need to, well, live well!

Fact is we can expect to live longer and healthier lives than the dudes way back in the medieval times. The expected life expectancy of a male European in the 15thcentury was about 30- 35 years of age. That’s pretty short when compared to today. With our increased knowledge and technology, we can expect to live at least twice as long as that. Average life expectancy for Canadians is about 81 years. I think we outlive our American counterparts by abn acverage of two years!

So I went to www.deathclock.com and filled out the simple form to calculate the day of my death.  After completion and submitting it I got the message, “Peter DeWit, your personal day of death is August 21, 2046.” My heart raced for a moment as I saw those words. I have, if they are right, about 35 years left! Well, 84 isn’t too bad huh! My wife did the same test later on and discovered she gets a lot longer lifespan than I do… she’ll die at 103 years of age. Not fair!!! Maybe some of you reading this will see her wrinkled face on the cover of Time magasine one day!

Discussion Question for the day: If you could know the exact time of your death, would you want to know? Why?

Here are some words written by Moses, who lived to be 120 years, by the way.

Psalm 90:12 Teach us to realize how short our lives are.

Then our hearts will become wise.

Good word Moses, wisdom begins with the following reality check: No matter how much we exercise, how well we eat and how many vitamins we consume, the percentage of people who die is still about 100 percent! Even the great Moses died.

So lets flip this around a bit, it’s not so important how long you live, but how well you live. In fact sometimes it’s not so much the dying part that we are afraid of. Right? We are more afraid of living a life that did not find its sweet spot, a life that did not find true significance. It is almost like coming to the end of our days and finding out that maybe we were chasing the ‘wrong rabbit” the whole time. There are lot’s of rabbits to chase too!

So I contend that’s what we are really afraid of, catching the rabbit and not knowing what to do with it!

The true intent of each monk with the shovelful of dirt  saying “Memento Mori” was to throw down the daily gauntlet to each other to live life with purpose and to its fullest potential. Its message was, “Don’t waste your life on the frivolous. Live life fully for your creator! Every day is a gift for you to make a moment, a memory.”

“Memento Mori!”

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