Posted by: riverchilde | February 7, 2013

Confirmation of our ultimate hope

Some backblogs from Alex’s Facebook memorial page that need to be posted here because they are referenced in blogs to come. Still worth reading, and re-reading, I hope. The dates are the original posting dates. (Alex died on 5-22-12)

7-17-12 Penultimate vs. Ultimate 

One aspect of experiencing such a great loss is that other people open up to you and share the stories of their own losses. Often, these conversations are colored by the question of God’s “goodness,” as in “How could God allow this to happen?”

For us, the answer is (of course) that God gave us free will to act as we wish here in this life. Alex made a decision to act as he did. But his death is a penultimate truth–it’s not the last chapter of his story. The ultimate truth is in his life with Christ. His story continues, beyond our knowledge or understanding.

Alex loved reading the book of Revelation in the Bible. Because, I think, the theme of that book is that no matter how wrong the world seems to be going, God ultimately triumphs. It’s the description of how ultimate truth has the final say over the penultimate (the second-to-last chapter of the book).

However. That doesn’t mean that what happens here in this life, on this precious planet we call the earth, among people who are strong and fragile, doesn’t matter. What happens here, what we do, matters a great deal.

It matters like elementary school matters to college. That one spelling test you failed, where you went home and cried and felt like the rest of your life was ruined? How much does it matter in college or high school? Probably not a great deal. But if you never put any effort into learning to spell or to read, it would make a great deal of difference in your future education.

What we do here matters like junior high matters to the rest of a person’s life. “It gets better,” right? Ultimately a person finds that the slings and arrows, the uncertainty and pain of junior high/middle school, are not ultimate truths about themselves. But penultimately, they matter. Your words, how you treat others and how others treat you, matter.

open-book2What we do here in this life matters. In terms of ultimate truth–of the last chapter of our lives that we cannot see or fully comprehend–it matters. But not in a way that has us “acting good enough to get into heaven”–that’s an undeserved gift from God, purchased for us by Jesus.

God’s given us the freedom to act solely for ourselves, to live to please ourselves, even to the point that our actions leave others living miserably. But that’s not how he intended the world to work. He created us to live in community, to live in ways that support, care for, and allow the best possible life for each person around us. Just like learning to spell in elementary school, like how we treat each other in junior high, what we learn by living in community with others ultimately matters.

We all know how Alex lived his life here. He was no saint–he was sometimes crabby, irritable, rigid, abrupt, self-absorbed–like most 14-year-old boys. 😉 But he cares a lot about people, particularly those he loves. We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: Alex loves deeply. The cards and words of so many attest to who he is and how he lived his life here. And that does ultimately matter. Everything else is penultimate.

We trust to God the last chapter of Alex’s life, the one we aren’t able to read yet.

(Photo credit to )

 7-17-12 Baptism

And how is it that I place trust in the next chapter of Alex’s life? By these words:baptism

“In Holy Baptism our gracious heavenly Father liberates us from sin and death by joining us to the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are born children of a fallen humanity; in the waters of Baptism we are reborn children of God and inheritors of eternal life. 

Alexander James Hansen, child of God, 
you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit
and marked with the cross of Christ forever.”

And when we were asked if we promise to help Alex grow in the Christian faith and life, even four-year-old Tori answered with us: “I do.”

7-18-12 Confirmation of our hope

IMG_5712As a FB friend pointed out, my assurance of the goodness of Alex’s future in God’s merciful hands is based not on some wishful fantasy of my mind, but on the strength of God’s everlasting covenant, which Alex publicly affirmed through the words of his personal confirmation of faith two days before his death:

Alex: I believe in God’s unconditional love.
Pastor: You have made public profession of your faith. Do you intend to continue in the covenant God made with you in holy baptism…?

Alex: I do and I ask God to help and guide me.



  1. […] think that Alex knew how fully and deeply God loves and accepts him. Or perhaps it was simply a tightly held hope. I wonder if things would have turned out differently […]

  2. […] the moment of impact, the heavenly host swoops in and carries Alex to the Lord. Because, you see, Alex believed in the promise of his baptism. And God doesn’t break […]

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