February 5, 2014
Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Acts 2:37-38
Sweden's Sven-Olof Svensson liked to keep up on what was going on in the world.
This he did by reading the local paper, the Jonkopings-Posten. At the age of 81, it is not surprising that part of Svensson's normal readings took him to the obituary page. About a month ago, he was surprised to come across the obituary for someone whom he knew quite well: Sven-Olof Svensson.
Yup, that's right; he came across his own funeral notice. After doing a quick inventory of his heart and breathing, Svensson became reasonably convinced the paper was wrong.
He investigated and found his final notice had been submitted by his 90-year-old sister. It seems that Svensson had been admitted to the hospital around Christmas, and she had called the doctors to find out how her brother was doing. Somewhere along the line, his sister thought the physicians had said he was dead.
She and Svensson's friend, Lars Faltskog, put together the obituary and sent it to the paper.
Now to Svensson's credit, he didn't get upset. He said, "It's understandable to me that there may have been a mistake, even if it was, in this case, fatal." He concluded, "We are all on the same road. Sooner or later, you are going to end up in the obituary section."
Truer words were never spoken. With the exception of Enoch and Elijah, the mortality rate of humanity is 100 percent. That means, someday, our survivors will read about us in the obituaries.
So my question is how can a person best be prepared for that inevitable eventuality?
Common sense offers some practical suggestions. On that list would be things like be nice to your children; don't kick the dog, and don't invest the family fortune in Florida swampland. That's all good advice.
But the Lord offers a few ideas of His own concerning how a person can best be prepared for his earthly departure. On Pentecost Sunday the crowd which had been convicted of their sins turned to the disciples and asked, "How can we be saved?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
That day thousands of people found out the best way to be prepared for death is to be made alive in Christ. Today, 2,000 years later, Peter's message still holds true. Repentance, forgiveness, baptism and faith in Jesus are God's gracious plan, which will take us through our obituary and into eternal life with our beloved Savior.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I am going to die. I don't know when or how, but the day is most assuredly coming. May the Holy Spirit make and keep me ready. In Jesus' Name I ask it. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries