The Open Gate of Everlasting Life

Almighty God, who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ overcame death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life: Grant that we, who celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection, may, by your life-giving Spirit, be delivered from sin and raised from death; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
“Is there a doctor here??  Anyone in the medical field???”  

If you’ve ever heard these words, you know that there is a serious health situation that needs IMMEDIATE attention.  Maybe someone is choking…or having a seizure…or just had a nasty fall.  In most instances, there is someone who can jump in to stabilize the victim until the ambulance gets there with properly trained EMT workers and the necessary equipment.  However, if in a more isolated location, such as in an airplane, the stakes are elevated.

Well, in 2003, on a flight from Manchester, England to Orlando, Florida, this is exactly what happened to 67 year-old Dorothy Fletcher.  In route to celebrate her daughter’s wedding, Dorothy suffered a heart attack.  Panic struck throughout the cabin.  Other passengers anxiously looked around for someone to do something.  Flight attendants sprung into action, provided care, but quickly realized that they needed more serious assistance.  And then, just as you see in the movies, they called out “IS THERE A DOCTOR ON BOARD!?!?!”

At this moment, this story takes another dramatic, yet remarkable turn.  Not only was there a doctor on board, Dorothy had unknowingly been seated behind, in front of, and beside a group fifteen cardiologists (heart doctors) in route to a cardiology conference in Orlando.  The doctors convinced the pilot to divert the plane to the nearest airport (Charlotte).  Working as a team, they grabbed the onboard medical kit, drips were administered into Dorothy’s arms, and, in no uncertain terms, the doctors saved this woman’s life!  After spending two days at a hospital in Charlotte, Dorothy traveled to Florida and sat front row at her daughter’s wedding.  Unreal.

It is abundantly clear that in this woman’s time of need, the EXACT person (group of people) necessary to save her was not only present, but willing to help.  And, vice versa, if these cardiologists had NOT been present, who knows if Dorothy would have made it through that flight!?!?

During the 40 days leading up to Easter, the church was invited to lean in and take an honest look at our sins and failures.  To state it plainly, it’s not been fun.  We read scriptures like Romans 7 that point out our wretchedness.  Gross.  We have to own our own mortality.  Ugh.  We confess our sins against God and others.  So hard.  

However, this analysis or, better put, this window into our sinfulness makes us acutely aware of our need for forgiveness.  Our sin has made us sick and, like Dorothy, we are in desperate need of help.  And the Good News is that our sin is not the end of the story.

As pastor Tony Merida once said, 
“Genesis ends with Joseph’s death. Deuteronomy ends with Moses’s death. Joshua ends with Joshua’s death. The Gospels end with Jesus’s resurrection. And that changes everything.”

Just like Dorothy, God miraculously provided exactly what we needed, a perfect Savior to die to cover our sins and bring hope through the power of His resurrection! As we pray the collect this week, we focus on the promises that Jesus earned for us… “opened to us the gate of everlasting life, “delivered us from sin,” and the promise to be “raised from the dead.”  Hallelujah!  

Back to Dorothy…when reporters followed up with her and her family, they were overflowing with gratitude and thankfulness.  Dorothy’s daughter said, “We owe those cardiologists and the airline so much. My mum wouldn't be here today if it wasn't for those doctors but in the rush, we didn't even know any of their names - and we still don’t.”

Being miraculous saved by another leads us to  overwhelming gratitude.  And we were not just saved from death, but saved TO an Easter life, a life filled with HOPE because of the resurrection!  As we enter the Easter season, may we be a people who "celebrate with joy the day of the Lord’s resurrection!”  

No Comments