It was interesting earlier this year to preach on Genesis 5, a litany of deaths with the constant refrain, "and then he died...".
2016 has seen the death of a long list of celebrities, young and old, from screen, stage and song. I think it's fair to say that lots of people have expressed their protests in the media. Even Fidel Castro, who apparently survived over 600 assassination attempts, found that 2016 was too strong for him and got him in the end.
2016 bit hard in my family, too. We knew a tragic and sudden death that hit us with great force.
2017 won't be any better. Why should it? There are still lots of celebrities left and death is still as widespread as ever - 100% mortality rate, they tell me.
A year like 2016 is valuable and important. We are confronted by the reality of death, and we try to cope with it in different ways. Sometimes we defy it : 'death is nothing'. Sometimes we try to ignore it and forget it. Sometimes we glorify it, whether by the idea of glorious death - dulce et decorum est - or by the "justification by death" that our society so loves. Everyone's a saint once they've died. Sometimes we just hope to stave it off as long as possible by dieting, fitness drives, health fads, green tea and ginseng, whatever.. But it stalks us all the same.
2016 doesn't hold out much hope in and of itself. But Genesis 5 does. Amidst the list of deaths there is one who didn't die, but who walked with God and then one day went to be with God.
It's a pointer to the great hope we have in the face of 2016 and of every year where death dogs our steps. Our great hero died and rose again, he conquered death, so that we need not fear death or fear any killer year. He rose and we rose in him and we will rise to be with him and so we will be with him for ever.