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Dear Friends

….and they lived happily ever after

Once upon a time … is the way every good story starts. And as soon as you begin a story like that everyone knows how it will end – whether the story is about Frodo Baggins, the 3 little pigs, Snow White, or the dark knight Batman – and they lived happily ever after. There is happiness for the heroine or hero and comeuppance for the villains. If it didn’t, the story would have no point and whoever heard of a story with no point. Boring! It is the satisfaction of the ending …and they lived happily ever after, that makes a story worth listening too.

John Eldredge has written a superb little book – one of the best witnessing books I have ever read – how I wish it had been an Adventist author! – called Epic. Let me quote from a flier: “Life, for most of us, feels like a movie we’ve arrived at forty minutes too late. Sure, good things happen, sometimes beautiful things. But tragic things happen too. What does it mean? We find ourselves in the middle of a story that is sometimes wonderful, sometimes awful, usually a confusing mixture of both, and we haven’t a clue how to make sense of it all. No wonder we keep losing heart…. For when we were born, we were born into the midst of a great story begun before the dawn of time. A story of adventure, of risk and loss, of heroism…and of betrayal. A story where good is warring against evil, danger lurks around every corner, and glorious deeds wait to be done. Think of all those stories you’ve ever loved – there’s a reason they stirred your heart. They’ve been trying to tell you about the true Epic ever since you were young.”

Adventists in very name look to that happy ever after ending. So did all the heroes of the Bible. Hebrews 11 tell us they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one. We call it the great advent hope. It is sounded out in such passages as Gen 3 where the serpent is crushed; Psalm 23 and we will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever; Isaiah 35  where the saints enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy crowning their heads; John 14 where Jesus promises to come back and take us to be with Him; and of course, Rev 22 where God says He wipes every tear from our eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. It just doesn’t get any happier ever after than that!

I officiated at a funeral this week in which none of the family or the deceased had a faith. As I met with them I longed for them to know that Christians believe that death is not the end of the story – in other words the story isn’t over! If it ends there it isn’t a happy ever after story. Rather we are part of a far far bigger epic. There is One who makes it so and says “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” and “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”

I pray that my words to them gave a glimpse of this hope and that each of us remind ourselves each day that there is a larger story and we have a crucial role in it.

Llewellyn Edwards