Yesterday, my friends Jon and Kelley released an album… one they recorded and produced in only the last few months, but one that has been written and lived over the last few years. It’s full of songs of life breaking through darkness, of hope reigning over despair; a bold hammering of the stake of hope into the bedrock of resurrection. Because what do you do when you’re an artist, a songwriter, a worship leader, and your baby girl goes to be with Jesus? What do you do when faced with inexplicable pain and loss? You sing, and you fight. You declare, death, be not proud. You worship, in both the Rise and the Fall.
DEATH be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
In the face of this great pain, I watched Jon and Kelley fight. Fight for joy, fight for hope. They weren’t ignorant or naive. They cried, they grieved, and Jon would walk into the office more depressed some days than others. But their posture in the midst of it all was one of fighting. They were daily standing up to the enemy, saying “You think you’ve won, but you haven’t. You will regret this."
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules delivery.
We all rise, and we all fall. One day, we all experience the great rest for our souls. We will see Him face to face, and all will be made well. And so in the midst of death, there is great peace and rest for those who go. But what of those who are left here, in the midst of the decay and the pain? How do we handle and deal with this figure, Death?
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
The wages of sin is death. For a long time, for all of human history, Satan had death in his pocket as a weapon. He has used it for millennia to cripple humanity. But the hope and truth of the Christian is that death no longer has the last word. That death has lost its grip, and that death is in fact slave to the Risen Christ. Death does not choose. Death can only die.
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell'st thou then;
Why do you swell, death? Why are you proud? This has been the declaration from Jon and Kelley over the last few years. Their lives, and this music, is unashamed in its shaming of the enemy. “Empty grave now, where’s your victory? Thought you won, but oh death, where is your sting?”
Death, you’ve been swallowed up in life. You’ve lost. You have no reason to be proud.
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
This is the promise and hope of resurrection. That death has died. That Christ has conquered death, and the Morningstar rises in our hearts. That one day, we will not wake to life here on earth, but we will wake to life, resurrection life. One day, in the twinkling of an eye, we will all be changed. We will be all be made new, and we will all live fully alive.
My friends Jon and Kelley have endured pain, and loss, and death, and in the midst of it all, like John Donne, they have firmly declared “DEATH, BE NOT PROUD.”
This is what The Rise is about. That Resurrection has won, and that it frames everything in our lives. That Resurrection lives in us, and we can live in it. And that one day, we will rise as He has risen.