Prepare Yourself To Live!

What a wonderful way to continue the Easter celebration today: experiencing the Quad City Symphony, the Handel Oratorio Society and the Augustana College Choir perform Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 in C minor, “Resurrection.” It was extremely well done and especially meaningful to my wife, Susanne, who was privileged to be part of a choir offering this same superb music while a student at the University of Iowa, years ago.

The program notes point out that the symphony “begins with reflections on the afterlife (movement one), happy memories of the deceased (movement two), followed immediately by an ominous sense of meaninglessness (movement three). Then, a profound profession of faith in eternal life (movement four) leads to the final, apocalyptic vision: the Dies Irae, the last trumpet and the final resurrection of the dead (movement five).

The amazing thing about this piece is its ability to avoid the thin, optimistic, “pie-in-the-sky” vision of the resurrection and eternal life offered in too many Easter sermons and funeral homilies. The reality of death, confrontation with the possible meaningless of life, the real grief experienced in the death of a loved one are all present. Yet, in the every movement — from the grave, to pleasant memories, to near-despair, to the triumph of the resurrection — hope is an ever-present theme. Hope, not optimism.

This is our Easter message, dear friends:

Was enstanden ist, das muB vergehen! Was vergangen, auferstehen! Hor auf zu beben! Bereite dich zu leben!

What was created must perish, What has perished must rise again. Tremble no more! Prepare yourself to live!



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