I had been drawn to the sacred, spiritual side of life from the time I was little, but what
finally got me in the doors of the church was the death of my mother. I was 17 and I had a ton of questions. Being brought up by an atheist, I had nowhere to turn to at home (or so I believed) to ask the tough questions. Why did my mom die so young? Where is she now? Will I ever see her again? Did she know I loved her? I can’t say I found the answers, but I did find a safe, supportive place to ask the questions.
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Questions about the afterlife are certainly not new. At the time of Jesus, there were three sects of Jews. The Sadducees were theologically conservative and didn’t believe in resurrection. The Pharisees were more liberal theologically, and did believe in resurrection of the dead. And the Essenes, who were sort of an extremist group and were caught up in their own concepts of cosmic battles and holy war.
Actually, it was only in the 200 years prior to Jesus that the concept of resurrection gained popularity. The Jews were heavily persecuted during this time, and the idea of resurrection explained how the faithful Jews who kept the Law would be rewarded, even though they appear to have died in vain.
In Mark:18-27, the Sadducees, ask Jesus a trumped-up question about the afterlife based on Levirate marriage, which is the custom that if there are brothers and one brother dies after being married, the other brother must marry the widow. So, the question is, if a woman ends up marrying seven brothers (because each husband dies), and she doesn’t bear children to any of them, whose wife is she at the resurrection?
Basically, Jesus tells them, in no uncertain terms, that they are “mistaken.” It just doesn’t work like that. We are changed after we die, we are no longer constrained by the limits or relationships of earthly bodies.
But the part of Jesus’ response that really strikes me is the last part where he says, “As to the raising of the dead, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the burning bush, how God told him, ‘I am the God of Sarah and Abraham, the God of Rebecca and Isaac, the God of Leah and Rachel and Jacob? God is the God of the living, not of the dead. “
Now remember, all those folks were dead when God was talking to Moses, yet God says “I AM the God of…” not “I was the God of…”
God is the God of the living, not of the dead.
Not even the living and the dead. All are ONE, all are living souls, to the Divine.
Psalm 139 says, “Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you’re there; if I make my bed in Death, you’re already there.”
We all have our own ideas, beliefs, feelings and thoughts about what happens after we die, and that is fine. As far as I know there is no definitive answer. So, let me posit something that I have no proof for, though I think it falls in line with what Jesus is saying. As always, you can feel free to disagree with me.
It is my belief (today) that the Divine is beyond time and space. God is eternal. God is fluid, not material or temporal. It makes sense to me that we, in these bodies, occupy a space within eternal time that is liminal and transient. When we exit the material plane (aka, die) we enter back into the wholeness of eternity, back into the fluidity of the Divine.
The Celtic believe, and I agree, that there is a metaphorical veil between this liminal world and the non-liminal world. Between this dimension and the next. When death draws near, or in certain places and times, the veil is thinner and we get a feeling, or a glimpse of the other for a moment. The two exist simultaneously, and while the fluid Divine is in all places at once, that veil and these bodies keep us in the material world for now.
Eternity is now. Has always been and will always been. We have always been and will always be a part of it.