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Let us consider the death euphemism “the dearly departed”.

“Departed” is a very useful term when speaking about death. The Greek word analyseos, which is rendered in English as “depart” really means “to break camp”. It means to take down your tent and move on to another place.

Consider the Jewish festival of Sukkot. (Sukkah, singular, means “booth” or “tabernacle”. Sukkot is plural). It is celebrated on the 15th of the Hebrew month of Tishrei, which is around September or October). You’ll find it observed by Jesus in John 7:1-52.

Booths or tabernacles are temporary structures that Jews live in for a week as a remembrance of what they lived in when they traveled for forty years in the desert to reach the Holy Land. The structures are built every year, and intentionally have flimsy walls and a roof you can see the stars through. All meals are eaten inside this structure, and ideally you are to sleep in it at least one night.

This is a very beautiful symbol of our bodies. They are temporary structures that we dwell within. They are fragile, and while able to endure stronger gusts of wind than the sukkah can, they are not permanent and subject to decay. It is a sign of our utter dependence upon God.

Remember that Jesus is said to have “tabernacled” among us”, to have become enfleshed.

When we die, it is really that we have departed. We have left our temporary dwelling behind. We have left for a better place, just like how nomadic people will break camp to follow the herds or to move to where the crops are ripe. Just like how the Jews gave up their tents when they entered the Holy Land.

Death isn’t the end. It is just the end of life as we know it.

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