As I've led various presentations with different church groups lately, they have all had similar themes. The church has experienced loss as it has experienced change.
Change in and of itself may not always be bad. Sometimes we need to change our lifestyles to become healthier.
Many people have to adjust their diet as they age because they are burning less calories. I've had to make this adjustment several times as my metabolism slows down.
But even change that is good for us means a loss of some kind. For me I eat a lot more turkey burgers than beef burgers these days. My taste buds prefer cow but my blood pressure cries fowl!
|Some expressions of grief give us a sense of peace.|
One of the most telling changes we express within the life of the church is the loss of our loved ones in a funeral service. We grieve and it is important for us to recognize that our lives are diminished without them.
The church has another way of acknowledging this beyond the standard memorial service. We celebrate All Saints Day each year on the first Sunday of November (technically the day falls on November 1 but we make allowances). We light a candle during worship for each church member that has passed away since the last All Saints Day. As we celebrate Holy Communion during that service, we recognize that they are communing with us in the church eternal. This can be a powerful moment of healing for people.
One of our other expressions of loss in our local setting is to provide a card for those in attendance. They may write the name or names of others who have also passed away who may not have been members of our church. Then when they receive Holy Communion, they leave the card on the altar rail as their commemoration. In this we are thankful to God for their being in our lives.
Grief is a difficult thing. Since I lost both parents in 2018, I recognize more acutely the times when it sneaks up on you unexpectedly. But I also know that to pretend I am not grieving is to cover up something that needs my attention. I think when we ignore our grief, we do not properly honor those we loved.
Paul writes that we give thanks to God for the church at Thessalonica. Their faith and love were increasing. We also give thanks to God for those who have shaped us in faith and love. May ours continue to increase as well as we express our own loss and share it before God.
I believe this time of remembrance will be especially healing for me this year as I hope it is for you!
Photo by Larry via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.