2 Corinthians 5.
The Circle of Life
The song, ‘The Circle of Life’ was composed by Elton John with lyrics by Tim Rice, for the 1994 Disney animated film, ‘The Lion King’. The film then spread to the theatre/ stage and has been a tremendous success, along with many of the songs from the film/show.
The circle of life is very interesting, building on the philosophical concept that we all start and end in the same place. Our lives, from beginning to end resemble a complete circle. No matter how big or small the circle is, it ends in the exact same place for everyone.
Of course the song was composed for the film which had a story line about a young lion cub and its journey through innocence to being the rightful king of the jungle, with many twists and turns along the way. Accordingly, for the purposes of the film, the circle of life relates to the lion cub’s birth through to his rightful inheritance and his status in society, leading onto the future through the birth of his own son.
Naturally we can apply the same philosophy to our own lives and our circle of life. When we are very young we celebrate our birthdays with a traditional birthday party, inviting friends of a similar age, to devour copious amounts of sandwiches, cake, jelly and ice cream. When we reach our late teenage years we celebrate being eighteen, (21 in my day) years old with similar party celebrations, often with the same friends but with the addition of a different type of beverage. We then find ourselves receiving invitations to weddings, (or civil partnerships), often followed a few years later to baptisms and christening parties.
All too soon, retirement parties creep onto the scene, these tend to be a little more sedate than the previous celebrations but none the less an important signpost in life’s circle. Sadly the next stage of the circle is not considered to be as joyful as the earlier milestone celebrations. Recently I have had the need to console two people who have lost partners in the final stage of the circumference of the circle.
Just as the baptisms, the birthdays, the weddings, and all the other stages of life, the funerals appear to come round far too frequently once they start to appear and no matter how strong and convincing our beliefs may be, the loss of a loved one is inevitably a bitter pill.
My mum had her own philosophy at times like these to help her come to terms. She found consolation in the belief that for every person who passed away, a new child was born. If the person had not moved on there would have been no room for the new child and another circle to begin. It was certainly the case when she passed away as only a few months after, our first child was born.
Paul has a wonderful theology on death and life everlasting which he brings to the believers in Corinth in his second letter Chapter 5 verses 1 – 10.
He reflects on our earthly bodies being only a tent; don’t forget he was once a tent maker. He points out that a tent is a temporary structure, fragile and vulnerable to damage. It can be repaired and patched up to keep it going for longer.
The tent was recognised as being a temporary home for the Nomads, a tribe who drifted across the wilderness, a home that could be taken down and re-erected in a different place.
But eventually the fabric would wear out and no longer be capable of being repaired. It would then be buried in the sand to decompose and return to dust from where it came, and so it is with our earthly bodies at the point of death.
God’s spirit was breathed into the clay to give life so it is by God’s spirt that we live.
The clay, (tent), may return to dust but the Spirit is not destroyed; it comes from God so it can never be destroyed. It is not the product of any human hand, it is divine and as such it is raised from the tent and ascends into to a heavenly home in God’s kingdom, a home with no suffering, no decay, and no death, described by Paul as being the eternal heaven.
Paul describes that he has no fear of suffering and no fear of death because he knows that he will eventually share in that heavenly home along with his Lord and master. At that time, he will start a new life in the home that God has provided.
Perhaps it could be described as being the new circle of true life.
During the COVID lockdown I have tended to dress, ‘casual’, as being encouraged to stay indoors I found little incentive to get, ‘dressed up’. However, as I was returning to the pulpit I thought that I had better try on my suit to make sure everything was still okay. A strange thing had taken place,- my, ‘tent’ had expanded, particularly round my waist line.