Well, it has been a week! When I attended the Festival of Homiletics last week, I intended to write a blog every day. Instead, I wrote Tuesday and Wednesday. I still hope to have some final thoughts, but normally Sunday and Monday are for posting about worship.
Today, though, I want to note an anniversary from my facebook memories:
first blog is written and up! woo hoo!
It seems, I wrote my first blog ten years ago. Then, I was on blogspot, and then after a few years transititioned here to this site. My how time flies!
So, still blogging after all these years and my writing has been hit and miss. Recently I have been a little more disciplined about posting regularly and making sure I am sharing our worship service from First as well as a weekly prompt for our Year of Gratitude helps keep me diligent.
Which brings me back to “Jesus on the Move.” That has been our sermon theme for Easter and yesterday we honored our graduates an scholarship recipients. Not only is it a blessing to celebrate those who have graduated and to offer scholarships, it is a good reminder that no matter what stage we might be in our lives, following Jesus on the Move is never easy. You can find the worship here.
A new week begins, Jesus is still on the move and is still encouraging me and you to follow.
Today is All Soul’s Day. It is the end of the three-day period that begins with Halloween. Most non-Roman Catholic churches don’t honor or celebrate All Soul’s Day. This day is the catch-all for “all faithful who have departed.” The Roman Catholic (and Orthodox) traditions have a strict definition of saints, where other churches do not. So saints and souls and sinners don’t have to be divided.
Today allows me some time to ponder grief and gratitude. Since November in my religious tradition begins with remembering those who have died and ends with the cultural holiday of Thanksgiving, grief and gratitude seem tied together. In my understanding as a pastor, I have always put those two together as I work with families to plan memorial and funeral services. Those gatherings lend themselves to both expressions of the human experience.
Personally, the anniversary of my mother’s death falls between those dates as well. Facebook does a tremendous job of reminding me. Not that I would need reminding, particularly. Many small things come along that send my mind racing back to those final days.
Yesterday in worship, the gospel reading came from the beatitudes with this verse included:
In the first moments of grief, it usually doesn’t feel like a blessing. It can, particularly if death took a long time and the loved one transitioned inch by inch. Sooner or later, grief comes hard and fast and with a deep ache. Then comes the moment and moments when it doesn’t hurt so much. The sadness is not a constant shadow that stalks day in and day out. THEN, then the blessings come and the gratitude.
At that time and season, the memories comes with smiles and laughter and not so many tears. Grief transitions to gratitude as we become able to say thank you again and again to the gifts our loved ones have left behind: stories and sayings, laughter and love, values and faith. Our grief and our gratitude becomes a witness, a tribute to our memories. On this All Soul’s day I continue to be thankful for the many saints and souls that have gone before me. Their memories, their laughter, their love and their unique and unrepeatable spirits continue to be part of my spirit.