Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Passion to Serve

On last Sunday, we celebrated All Saints’ Sunday. We had sent out letters inviting the families of the honored dead to worship with us that day. We sang the great hymn: “For all the Saints...” And, people came to worship God and to remember their loved one. This is always a difficult service. We name the ones who have died in the last year; so, some of them have just died and some only died a year ago. This very public service is hard because none of us likes to cry in public. Well, most of us, maybe, don’t like to call attention to ourselves. And yet, what better place to cry than in worship? One of my professors used to say that church was where we go to weep in common. He quoted the great writer, Miguel de Unamuno, who said that life was at its best tragic. All of us are living in grief. Our one sole common grief is that no given moment lasts forever. It’s the truth that strikes you throughout life.. A mother goes through this when her child gets his first haircut. Or, it happens in experience when a father sends his child off to school the first day. A million times in our lives we experience the grief of life= that no given moment lasts forever. The only constant in life is change. We’d like it not to be so. Much of life is lived, I’m afraid, as if we could grasp life and hold it in our hands. We would love for some things and some moments to go on and on. And, then it all comes to reality in the face of death, our own, or the death of someone we love. I was 12 when my grandfather died. My father was gone when I was one year old; so, my mother’s dad, my grandfather, was my dad. But, I was thirteen when he had his third heart attack and died. It was devastating. I remember the pastor, who meant well, pulling over to the side and saying: “You’re the man of the house now…” My mother heard him and immediately took me into the other room and said: “You’re not the man of the house; you’re my boy.” It was tremendously freeing to hear my mother say that. I knew I wasn’t a man. How could I be responsible for anything or anybody yet. The grief was overwhelming; Life had been hard enough, but now. But, surrounded by a family and a church and a community of support, I experienced the God and came to see that God in Christ was my hope and the hope of the world. How much grief have you experienced? Some seem to have more grief than their share. But, all of us have some grief. It really is all about this: no given moment lasts forever. So, Sunday, we gathered and named the honored dead. We gave thanks for their lives, that God allowed them to pass our way. We also prayed that we might live by their example of love and commitment. I said in my sermon that none of the honored dead would like it if we tried to call them Saints, but they are Saints to us. They are servants of God whose lives were a reflection of God’s love in the world. It was hard to read the names; it always is. But, it was good to name them out loud and to acknowledge our loss. And, it was good to remember that in Christ there is always more love, and now for them, even more life. For all the Saints Who from their labors rest Who thee by faith before the world confessed… Blessings! Dave Nichols

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Thanks for checking out my blog. I'm new to this, as you can probably see. But, I, like you, have convictions and ideas worth sharing. I hope this will be an opportunity to connect with others who are Christian and/or religious. I am happily United Methodist. I am committed to the basic teachings of our church, and to the compassionate outreach to the world.

I hope these pastoral ponderings will generate something in you that is hopeful.

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About Me

A graduate of Newberry College and Duke University Divinity School.  I have served as a pastor in the United Methodist Church since 1975.

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