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Thought for the weekend: The Ashes and the fear of death

By Rev Gareth Burke

Over this weekend in many places throughout the province bonfires will be set alight. Next week we will see charred grass and melted roads and ashes scattered around - all that remains of the huge bonfires. Ashes.

However, for many cricket enthusiasts the term 'The Ashes' has a very different connotation. They're not thinking about the ugly remains of the bonfires, but rather about the latest struggle between the cricketers of England and Australia which began on Wednesday in Cardiff. These Test matches between England and Australia are referred to as 'The Ashes'.

In 1882 after Australia defeated England at the Oval, a satirical obituary appeared in a newspaper declaring that English cricket had died. "The body will be cremated and the ashes taken to Australia." However, in the subsequent Test series between the two countries held in Australia, it was England who were successful.

Some women put the ashes of a wooden bail in an urn and presented it to the English captain, declaring that the urn contained the ashes of Australian cricket. All very interesting and, of course, just a bit of fun at the end of the day.

It's interesting, isn't it, the way in which we will joke about the death of English cricket or the death of Australian cricket, but we would rarely joke about death itself? Why is that? Because it's just too serious. None of us likes to think much about the fact that we're not always going to be around. Also, death is something over which we have no control. We have no idea as to when or where or how we will die. At times such thoughts can deeply trouble us.

Yet, we need to consider death. The Bible tells us that 'Death is the destiny of every man, the living should take this to heart'. (Ecclesiates7:2) The Bible encourages us to prepare for death by turning from our sin and by trusting fully in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, for salvation.

If we do that then the prospect of death may continue to cause us some concern, but our fears and doubts will dispel as we realise that the One in whom we trust - Jesus Christ - is the One who conquered sin and death and hell and the grave.

Belfast Telegraph

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