Remembering Those Who’ve Died

Today is All Saints’ Sunday.  For the Christian church we take time to remember those that have died, but this ritual of remembering, of marking death isn’t unique to the Christian community.  We see it in All Hallow’s Eve and Día de los Muertos and I am certain this marking would find parallels in countless cultures across the globe.

But for today, as a pastor to a specific group of people, I decided to read a children’s book for my sermon.  I read The Invisible String by Patrice Karst.  It tells of the invisible string that links us all together and for those of us in the Christian community, I would argue that such a string is born in God’s creation; strengthened, fortified and glowing with love through our baptism in Jesus Christ and sustained for all eternity through space and time through by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Wonderfully the book leaves where the string come from as answered simply by love, allowing it to be an open and wonderful resource for everyone and I wanted to share it with you.

Because on this All Saints Sunday, as the “expert on death” in the room, I find myself longing for something different from our culture.   A couples years ago my community was faced with a hard and personal tragedy.  In the wake of it I wrote a Facebook post that has been the most viewed and well received of anything I had/or have written.  The longer I am in this vocation as pastor, I am more and more convinced there is a hunger in our culture to name death. To not turn away, press it down or ignore it, but confront the reality of tragedy and grief and in community, make meaning, even if there is no sense.  So today, I share with you The Invisible String and my Facebook post, hoping they might be pebbles in the sea of cultural milieu that denies death at every turn.

Talking about Grief and Tragedy with Children and Yourself
Facebook Post originally published – August 26, 2016

Speaking about grief and tragedy is hard for all of us. But we need to speak to each other and to God in the depths of our sorrow, so below I have outlined some thoughts that I pray may help you as you speak to this week’s [or any] tragedy with your children, grand children, friends and even to yourself.

Take what is useful, leave what is not…

1) This was not the will of God. God did not want this for anyone. God is weeping and grieving this loss of a beautiful soul right alongside us and God is loving all of us through the pain.

2) All living things are born and all living things die and death comes in many forms. In this case someone is gone because something unexpected and tragic happened to them not because of anything that was done or left undone. There is no reason this happened. It is just tragic.

3) It is hard to say good-bye to those we care about. It is normal to think about what you wish you had done or hadn’t done especially with something so unexpected, but remember that you were loved and cared for because of who you are, not for the things you did or said.

4) You are feeling many emotions right now, sadness, fear, anger, or like your heart has been broken in two. That is normal and it may take a long time to feel like yourself again. You may not want to do the normal things of life and you may feel very much alone, not wanting to talk to or see friends. Know that even in this sadness you are not alone, God is sitting and crying beside you.

5) When someone has made an impact on us, they are never completely gone because they have shaped, molded and formed us into the people we are and the love of God which passes all understanding continues to connect us one to another in the beautiful body of Christ…forever.

May your reading meet you exactly where you find yourself today.

Peace – Hannah