Last night we marked All Saints with a quiet gathering in the hall. We remembered some special folk, lit a few candles, said a few prayers, and savoured a sweet supper together. Why? Because many of us are grieving the loss of loved ones this year, and God promises comfort to those who grieve. This does not mean that the grief is negated or vanishes, simply that we have companions in our sadness, that there are moments of gladness, and that we can be assured that death does not have the last word. Continue reading “Isaiah | Slow reading | The oil of gladness”
All Saints | Grief and hope
The prophetic task of the church is to tell the truth in a society that lives in illusion, grieve in a society that practices denial, and express hope in a society which expresses despair. (Walter Brueggemann. The Prophetic Imagination.)
Jesus wept. His beloved friend Lazarus had died, Mary was sobbing, and so were her companions. And Jesus himself, who had just said that all those who trust in him would never die but live and that Lazarus would rise again, was nevertheless “greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply troubled”; and he wept. Continue reading “All Saints | Grief and hope”
Prayer | When a pet dies
This St Francis Day, we named, celebrated and blessed our animal companions using other people’s prayers. But to remember the animals we love who have died this year, we used our own:
Creator God, when you made the mammals,
the birds, the fish, and even the creepy-crawlies,
you saw that they were good.
Loving God, we pray for the animals
who are no longer with us.
Thank you for their lives.
Thank you for their goodness.
Thank you for the times that we shared,
the gifts we received,
the things we learned,
the affection we knew,
the events and habits which made us laugh,
and even for all the messes.
God, we commit our creaturely kin
back to the earth from which they came
and into the fullness of your loving presence,
and we ask for your comfort in our sadness.
In the name of the one who taught us to pay attention
even to birds: Jesus Christ, our Lord: Amen.
Continue reading “Prayer | When a pet dies”
Isaiah | The heavenly banquet
ELLIOTT WRITES: Dear Alison, Mum says that God said in heaven there won’t be any sadness or crying. But I know lots of people don’t believe in heaven and don’t want to go there. Some of my friends and their families don’t want to believe in God or heaven. I think I will miss them in heaven so I will be sad – I don’t think God will make clones of them. Can you explain this to me? I would like it in an email. From Elliott. Continue reading “Isaiah | The heavenly banquet”
33 | groceries #Lent2022
The Psalmist sings, “The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish … I walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 116:3, 9)
It may seem odd to talk about what you eat at a funeral as a way of celebrating life, but at every level, that is exactly what it is. Nor do I mean a celebration in that cheery if faintly maudlin sense of giving someone a good send-off, though that is a part of it. Any food is a vital reminder that life goes on, that living is important. That isn’t brutal: it’s the greatest respect you can show to the dead … Continue reading “33 | groceries #Lent2022”
In loving memory: Richie and Mattie
Last week’s reflection on small ghosts inspired one of our folk to share about two of his own ghosts, who yet loom large in his life. Wenn writes:
I remember Richie. He was three years old and constantly on the go. He ran everywhere and had a zest for life often seen in young children who believe the world is a wondrous colourful playground put here for them. Continue reading “In loving memory: Richie and Mattie”
Small ghosts, and how we remember them
Small ghosts trail behind so many families, invisible to the naked eye or the quick hello.
Rena bustles around her son’s birthday party, passing food and welcoming guests. During a lull, we chat. ‘Did you ever think of having another child?’ I ask. ‘Oh, we did,’ she says, voice suddenly rough, ‘but he died. He was eight weeks old. He got an infection, it entered his heart, and he died.’ I place my hand on her shoulder; there are no words. Continue reading “Small ghosts, and how we remember them”
Job | Responsibility, awe and wonder
In response to human suffering, God offers presence and a broader perspective. (Listen.)
God, why was Elephant killed? What about J and K and all our other friends this year? Why is there a plague galloping across the earth, and so many people suffering or dead? How long must we live in fear? When can we see friends and family again? We’re good people, Lord, faithful and committed and true. We try to live ethically; we pray: why is this all happening? Continue reading “Job | Responsibility, awe and wonder”
Psalms | In the vale of death’s shadow
Yesterday there were two funerals as two beloved young people, both killed in the same car crash, were farewelled in this region. I could pile on words of comfort and assurance. I could remind you that those who grieve are blessed; I could assure you that nothing can separate us from God’s love; I could recall the peace which surpasses all understanding, and which so many of us experience precisely at these moments of extreme need. But this week, I don’t think we need more words, just the balm of an old favourite. So let us rest in Psalm 23, and let the good shepherd minister to us all. Continue reading “Psalms | In the vale of death’s shadow”
Psalms | My soul refuses to be comforted
We love the idea of a powerful God who reaches out to organise events to our satisfaction: and right now, we could really use a God like this. A God who ends world hunger, ensures justice for every situation, waves a hand to make climate change and the pandemic simply disappear, and all without us doing a thing. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of this God in Scripture. Continue reading “Psalms | My soul refuses to be comforted”