Tag Archives: grief

Crybaby!

When I was six or seven I used to cry all the time.  I cried numerous times a day.  I remember my sister promising to give me a dime each day (a lot of money at that time)–but the hitch was that one penny would be deducted from that dime for each time I cried that day.  I almost never made any money because I cried so much.  My dad was a widower, and he started dating someone.  When this woman came over my father and my sisters warned me that I was supposed to try and control myself and not cry.  It was clear we were all trying to make a Good Impression.

How comfortable are you with tears?  Your own?  Others?  Some people never or hardly ever cry.  Other people cry very easily.  This week we are talking about our community’s calling to “weep with those who weep”.  Sometimes that will literally mean sitting there sharing a box of Kleenexes with people as they cry.  But  in other instances it will just mean sitting with someone who is in agony, someone whose face is a stone, who is frozen with grief.  Sometimes it will mean sitting with someone who is angry, they are directing their agony outwards.

At a number of places in scripture, the text says that Jesus has compassion.  The Greek word for compassion “splagchnizomia” literally means to be moved in your bowels, or your guts.  Before people understood the role of the brain, emotions were believed to be located in your gut.  Being compassionate involves feeling something viscerally, feeling it in your core.  Are we willing to weep with those who weep?  What’s stopping us?  Come and think more about this with me on Sunday.

This week’s prayer:  God, help me to have a gut feeling about someone today.

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Entering into silence

This past week my husband attended a family funeral in Manitoba. His cousin’s wife was tragically killed in a car accident at the age of 54. The grief was compounded by the fact that this cousin had lost his oldest son in a car accident 13 years ago, so this was the second time that same family had to deal with such a sudden shocking death.

As Eugene was getting ready to go to the airport, he asked whether I would write a card to them. I sat down, with the card in front of me, and thought about this family. I just was at a loss for words. In the end I said, “We can’t find words to express our sorrow. Know that you are in our thoughts and prayers constantly.”

Sometimes when faced with grief, we can just blurt things out, trying to say something, anything, to make the situation better. Some nice sounding religious words, “She’s in a better place now.” “God called her home.” I’ve sometimes said things like that. I think sometimes we are afraid to enter into the silence of grief, that lonely soul-searing place where all we can do is cry. The women who stood at the foot of the cross watching Jesus suffer entered into that type of silence.

How does God reach out to us in silence? What role does silence play in hearing the voice of God? I’m going to be talking about in my sermon this week. Maybe we’ll find some silence in our service too, just to try it out.

This week’s prayer:   _______________________________________________________________________.

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Saying good-bye

A friend in our First Mennonite community lost her mother this week. That’s a strange expression we use to talk about someone who died, “we lost them”. It’s true that we no longer see them, they are missing, they are missed. But as Christians we believe that they are not at all lost, but living with God.

They may not be lost but they are certainly gone from our world, and the feelings we have when our parents die are lasting and deep. This is true whether the relationship with your parents is a good one or a troubled one. Our parents raised us, shaped us, influenced us, and hopefully loved us into who we are. When they die, we become bereft, untethered for a time, feeling disconnected from the generation that birthed us. We suddenly realize that we are the next generation to go!

I have seen that in times of grief, churches can shine. They can come together and offer help in very practical ways. They can walk alongside the grieving, who are re-living memories. The telling and re-telling of stories can flood us with big emotions, and we need companions for this journey to hold our hands. Churches can also place the death in a context of meaning within the life of faith, they can offer hope for a future reunion. We pray for the grieving, and ask for God’s comfort and strength.

This week’s prayer: Comfort our friend who is grieving, and all in our community who are missing loved ones. Give hope and faith as we wait for a reunion, in the fullness of your time. We pray this in the name of Jesus, who rose from the dead.

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Worshipping God from beginning to end

In the past few months I’ve been in two hospital rooms. In the first room, less than a day after he was born, I held baby Simeon in my arms. We prayed a blessing on the gift of life, the miracle of birth. There were tears. And then in another hospital room, less than a day before Rhea died, I held her hand. We prayed a blessing on her long life, and asked for the gift of death for this woman who was suffering. There were tears.

Yesterday we had a funeral for our sister Rhea, who died at 86 years of age. People who loved her gathered. Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, friends, neighbours, church members. We came to say good-bye in the context of worship. It is in God’s house that we frame the final farewells, close the casket, say the blessings. We walk together to the cemetery and lay Rhea’s body in its final resting place with prayers. We walk back to the church. We eat, we talk, we remember. We are still sad.

As much as we believe in the resurrection, as much as we believe in God’s care across the boundaries of life and death, we are still sad. There is one person less at the quilting frame on Mondays. There’s an empty chair on a certain side of the church. A household is missing someone on Martin Road. Many hearts feel hollow because of this death. And so we carry that grief, and we will carry that grief, right back to worship on Sunday.

It’s in worship that we welcomed baby Simeon. We gave thanks for a new person in a house on Dufferin St. Thanks for a new voice in our church meetings. Many hearts are filled with love because of this birth. We get to take turns carrying Simeon, and our joy, and we carry that right back to worship.

We are a community together, in the beginning and in the end. In worship we stand before God with these full hearts, sometimes laughing, sometimes crying.

A prayer for these times: God of this world, here we are. We come to worship not because we understand all mysteries and all knowledge and have all faith so as to move mountains. We come for love, for your love, for your love which surrounds us and sustains us. Hold us close.

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