An Evangelical Church in the Heart of Thatcham

Death row – A heavy toll

As a Christian minister it is one privilege to come alongside those that are facing the grief of losing a loved one. And yet, on the other end of the spectrum, is that person whose job it is to officially witness and report on the executions of those placed on death row. Michelle Lyons was in the news recently having worked 12 years for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and witnessing nearly 300 sentences being carried out. Starting at age 22 she kept a regular journal and at the start she recorded: “I was completely fine with it. Am I supposed to be upset?”

Later on she reasoned to herself: “If I had started exploring how the executions made me feel how would I have been able to go back into that room, month after month, year after year?”

She goes on to give, what I think is a very penetrating observation: “Watching the final moments of someone’s life and their soul leaving their body never becomes mundane or normal.”

Jesus is one who clearly showed his feelings at the death of one who was his particularly close friend. The man’s name was Lazarus and although Jesus does not put into actual words what he was feeling we read twice in a short space of time that he was “deeply moved” and the word chosen to express this is one that is used of a horse snorting or of one showing violent indignation. Jesus would have undoubtedly agreed with the sentiment this young lady expressed, that death can never become “mundane or normal”. Death is truly an enemy, an imposter and yet many choose to say: “Death has been swallowed up in victory”. Why? Because: “He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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I am the Pastor at Thatcham Evangelical Church in West Berkshire. This is an FIEC (Fellowship of Evangelical Churches) affiliated church.