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The Death Notification

Chaplain Bill Wolfe

Got your attention, didn’t I? Greetings from the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas and welcome to this edition of the Chaplain’s Corner. Okay, Okay…Llano is “officially” the Deer Capital of Texas, but we’ve got so many bluebonnets up and blooming already this year it could go the other way.

Well, on to “business.” This is something that’s been on my heart for a number of weeks now.

Death notifications: Something no one, including the Chaplain, likes to do. But yet that’s what we do – or help another officer do. If it’s something you have to do, you want to get it right because most of the time you’re bringing devastating news that will change the recipients’ lives forever. Those you’re bringing the notification to will invariably ask: How? When? And the hardest question: Why?

Now, if you were expecting this to be lesson in how to deliver a death notification you’d be wrong. If you were expecting me to deliver a notification in this column, you’d pretty much be correct. You see, this is my Easter column, and at the very core of Easter is a death notification. Like those we have to make from time-to-time, the how and when are easy enough. The why, however, is easy and but at the same time just as hard to comprehend.

The how? He was murdered. Tried and convicted by an illegal kangaroo court, He was beaten half to death, and then He was hung – on a cross. The Old West style of hanging was merciful compared to what they did to Him.

The when? I don’t know exactly. I know it was on a Friday before Passover over 2,000 years ago, but exactly what year I don’t know. (And I still don’t understand why it’s called “Good Friday.”) The year really isn’t important. The execution was recorded by secular historians as well as His followers.

The why? It was part of The Plan. From the beginning of time, mankind has had trouble living up to God’s expectations – even struggling with the desire to please Him. There seemed to be a communications breakdown, and He came to try and fix that. He was killed because He pointed out that the people, including and especially the religious leaders, were not living up to God’s standards. He was killed because, morally and ethically, He met The Standard – and that was a threat to many.

The why? To make it possible for us to have a positive and personal relationship with the Living God – a relationship we couldn’t establish with our own efforts.

The part of “why” that’s harder to understand is why He was willing to endure the Friday before Passover. The Scripture says it was because He loves each of us. I’m not sure I can really comprehend such love. Much like a loved one standing beside a casket trying to come to grips with the reality of what is before them, I look back at an old rugged cross and try to understand the enormity of what happened.

Ever hear of a Life Notification? Not a birth announcement, but a life notification – the opposite of a death notification. The Life Notification part of Easter is just as important as the Death Notification, if not more. Early on Easter Sunday, a life notification was made. The angels said to the women at the tomb: “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen.” (Luke 24:5-6 NASB)

Were it not for the life notification, the death notification, or rather, The Death itself would have been meaningless. But the life notification validates His claim of who He was and why He came. The pairing of the death notification along with the life notification has been the Christian message down through the ages. From the timeless words of the Apostle’s Creed:

I believe in God the Father Almighty,
   Maker of heaven and earth:
   And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,
   Born of the virgin Mary,
   Suffered under Pontius Pilate,
   Was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into hell;
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven,
   And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;

He has risen. He has risen indeed!

Remember a bit ago I said: “You’re bringing devastating news that will change the recipients’ lives forever.” The Easter message has been changing recipients’ lives for several thousand years. All you have to do is invite Jesus to come into your life and He will, and this notification will have changed your life forever. May you and yours find the joy of the Risen Savior this Easter.

Hey, thanks for listening and riding along.

Blessings to you and yours.

Chaplain Bill
Llano County Sheriff’s Department

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