Grace and peace to you St. John’s family!
I recently read an article in an issue of Living Lutheran from February 2018 entitled “It’s all about death – and life! This article caught my eye because of the beautiful artwork and the title. Maybe it also caught my attention having lost my dear mother this past year as well as a few beloved members from our church family too. It got me thinking about death and all its surrounding concepts and mysteries. I generally dread going to funerals as well as hospitals, probably because I never really know what to say. The fear of saying something wrong or stupid makes me nervous and apprehensive. I fear that I may try to say something positive and encouraging but end up saying something that may not help at all.
Really, it starts long before the funeral especially if there is a long illness. Nowadays our loved ones are often cared for at hospitals or nursing homes. Home health care is not always an option. In earlier times people took care of their loved ones at home and provided whatever care they could. When the loved one passed, the funeral or wakes were done right there at home and people would come to pay their respects. The body may have been viewed in the “Parlor” with services held right there too. The house I grew up in had a Parlor, but I never really understood that purpose probably because civilization or culture ceased that practice by then. The article I read talked of an old woman and her granddaughter and how they had seen ducks or angels in the room. You hear stories like this as loved ones near death. Some see bright light or animals or even deceased loved ones appearing to them as they near death. My own father asked me if about a dog he saw in his hospital room. There are many mysteries about death and the fear of dying alone. Many are afraid of the unknown. Where do we go after we die? What happens to our loved ones? Do we go in limbo or just fall asleep or maybe right to heaven or hopefully, not hell? No- one really knows for sure. We may hear stories of some who have had near death experiences, but who really knows for sure? This article talks of people in their own church communities helping those who are dying and how we can be there to aid and comfort them and their families. They encourage all of us to engage and minister to comfort not just our own loved ones but also others of our own church community and family. To be there for one another. To help and support each other as God intends us to do. To share ourselves and the gifts we have to offer through Jesus. That is part of being what community and family is all about. Being there for one another.
No matter what we feel about death and it’s mysteries we know one thing for sure. Paul expresses to us in 1 Thessalonians 4 verses 14 through 18 what God intends for us, thanks Pastor! Through Jesus life, death, and resurrection we are saved, by grace. This is our belief and faith and hope! Trust in God that when we die we will be with Him in heaven. No more pain. No more anxiety. No more mystery. Just life eternal! Let us not fear death! Jesus took care of that for us!