Saturday, July 04, 2009

Death, Where Is Thy Sting?

In 1993 while on sabbatical I wrote a book called Love Stronger Than Death. In three parts, it tells what Christians believe about eternal life, provides case histories of a number of real people to whom I ministered as they faced death, and describes the blessings God provides to Christians in the time of grief.

Today I ran across this photograph for the first time—one of the most moving images I have ever seen. To the eyes of faith, it displays almost everything I wrote in my book of about 85,000 words. Archaeologists judge that the couple was buried 5,000-6,000 years ago, their arms wrapped around each other in an eternal embrace.

Reuters released the photograph on February 6, 2007. Experts believe that the prehistoric pair were a man and a woman who died young, as their teeth were intact. An initial examination of the couple revealed that the man (on the left in the picture) has an arrow in his spinal column while the woman has an arrowhead in her side.

The skeletons were found at an archaeological dig site near Mantova, Italy. Five thousand years ago the area was marshland crisscrossed by rivers. The tribes of the area thrived through hunting and fishing, and traveled along the waterways in boats. The burial site was discovered during construction of a factory building. The slab containing the skeletons has been preserved entire.

We can never in this life know the story behind these remains, yet whatever the details of their unknowable story, their tale is something that people of any age and time can understand.

From a poem by George Herbert (1593-1633)
Death, thou wast once an uncouth hideous thing,
Nothing but bones. …
But since our Saviour’s death did put some blood
Into thy face,
Thou art grown fair and full of grace…

Here is where I first ran across the photo. No better place to see it first, I think...

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