When lonely and embittered control freak Harriet comes across an obituary of a colleague in a newspaper, she decides that she will make sure her own obituary presents her in the correct way.
When obituary writer Anne takes on the task she discovers something, there is very little good to say about Harriet. She visits a lot of folks from Harriet’s life and they all have one thing in common. They don’t like her. She has a stab at writing something but it is very short indeed, and Harriet is not impressed. So, in an attempt to flesh out the picture, the two decide to spend some time together, and both are in for a few surprises.
I don’t know if anyone was in the process of writing Jesus’s obituary, but he went and spoilt it by coming back from the dead. It would be years before the four diaries that we now call The Gospels would be written. Did they include the four elements Harriet lists here – loved by family, admired by co-workers, touched someone’s life unexpectedly, and a wild card? Well, one of the surprising things about the recollections about Jesus is that the writer’s weren’t afraid to record the difficult stuff. Loved by his family? Well er… they did try and stop his work, at one point claiming he was looking mad, and trying to have him taken way. They were clearly embarrassed at times. Admired by his friends? Again, there is no shortage of tricky moments when his friends tried to make him do what they wanted, steering him in the wrong direction, misunderstanding where Jesus was headed. Those moments when he had to tell them off and correct them. Did he touch some’s life unexpectedly? Certainly. Tick that box a thousand times. A dying prisoner on a cross next to him? Tick. A Roman officer in charge of his execution? Tick. A couple of hated tax collectors? Tick. A whole crowd of marginalised and overlooked stragglers? Tick. Thousands of ravenous people on a hillside? Tick, tick, tick. If there was one thing Jesus was a pass master at, it was touching people’s lives unexpectedly. And that story continues down the ages. When the writer CS Lewis surrendered and became a follower of Jesus, he described himself as ‘the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England.’ In spite of himself Lewis discovered the risen Jesus and it changed him forever.
And the wild card? Well, how about – willingly surrendering to a terrible death, and then surprising everyone (an understatement) by walking out of his tomb and continuing to change lives, history and the universe. You can’t get much wilder than a card like that. The four gospels aren’t obituaries, Jesus didn’t need one, but they are honest, candid and surprising accounts of the life that changed everything about everything.