What is the purpose of a Christian funeral? To help a family grieve? To celebrate a person’s individuality? In this final episode, J. Todd Billings and Rev. Tom Long (Accompany Them with Singing, 2013) discuss historic and current trends in funerals and point to the sacramental realities of a Christian funeral. Recovering the funeral as a completion of baptism invites us to praise the God who conquers death in Jesus Christ.
In the year 1900, the average human lifespan in the West was 40 years. Today we expect to live 80 years or more. In this episode, J. Todd Billings and guest, Ephraim Radner (A Time to Keep, 2017) discuss how our perceived control over our mortality shapes our understanding of who God is and what we think it means to live a faithful life. Will the recognition that we are ‘like grass which fades and blows away’ (Is 40:6) lead us to despair? Or, like the biblical witness, can it reorder our values to claim, “But, the word of the Lord endures forever” (vs 8)?
“When I was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, I thought I’d die really quickly. Then I didn’t.” “Why am I sad when I get good medical news?” When Christians face bleak diagnoses, we tend to look for our place in the grand story of death to new life. At the same time, we find ourselves living in the midst of continued pain and brokenness. In this episode, Dr. J. Todd Billings and Dr. Deanna Thompson (Glimpsing Resurrection, 2018) discuss the relationship between serious chronic illness and the psychological category of trauma. They look to places in the biblical narrative that make space for us to acknowledge our sense of being undone.
We will all die. Our bodies will begin to decompose and smell, and, when that happens, they have to go somewhere — with all their heft and bulk and trouble. In this episode, J. Todd Billings joins undertaker and award winning writer and poet Thomas Lynch (The Undertaking, 2009) to discuss the earthy realities of death and dying. With raw honesty and poignant theological insight, Lynch points out that we are people deeply uncomfortable with the earthy reality of death. He points us toward the hallmarks of a good funeral, one in which, by getting the dead where they need to go, the living get where they need to be.
Sometimes pain stays with us. Some hurts aren’t healed, and we wish the suffering would simply leave and quickly. Join J. Todd Billings and therapist and author KJ Ramsey (This Too Shall Last, 2020), as they explore prosperity gospels and the misleading scripts that tend to define our lives of faith. How might our unresolved pain invite us to experience the presence of the Triune God who meets us in the midst of our suffering?
“A good name is better than precious ointment and the day of death better than the day of birth” (Ecc. 7:1). How might the book of Ecclesiastes help us better understand and speak about death? J. Todd Billings and Rev. Dr. David Gibson (Living Life Backward, 2017) wonder together how this book of Wisdom Literature might inspire hope, modesty, creatureliness, and, above all, joy.