He was not a god or a king but a complicated, talented person whose life knew a combination of sadness, contradictions and amazing success. He will be eulogized and analyzed in the days ahead. As a nation considers his passing, the following are 10 things Michael Jackson's death brings to mind:

  1. There is a no more precious gift than life.
  2. We care because we share the American story.
  3. Ultimately a life is measured by how one touches the lives of others.
  4. The freest expression of love is reserved for the moment one is gone.
  5. No matter how wealthy or famous one becomes, each of us will leave this world the same way we came.
  6. We are kinder to people in death than we are in life.
  7. When life is cut short, we mourn what could have been.
  8. A voice lifted with excellence can touch a world.
  9. When a generation loses a celebrity, a family loses a father, a son, a brother.
  10. Death readjusts priorities.

Somehow celebrities like Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon make us feel like we know them and therefore their deaths matter to us in a personal way. Many of us grew up with them in our living rooms via the television set. Their deaths remind us of our own mortality. Perhaps as we say goodbye we can renew our commitment to excel in what matters most in life and worry less about what matters least.

Rev. Bill Shuler is the pastor of the Capital Life Church in Arlington, Virginia. For more go to capitallife.org.