Sermons

III Epiphany

January 20, 2019
Guest Speaker on Grief.
Our Parish suffered the loss of both our Deacon and our Organist in recent months.  The Vestry invited a consultant to talk with us about grief.  Below is the text of her presentation.
 
Opening:

We are invited to live into the wholeness that is God’s gift to us through Christ and through our baptism. As Christians, we seek wellness in response to that gift by looking at the choices we make in our lives and the impact those choices have on our well-being. The handout provides prayers and resources for you to use in the coming days.        

 Prayer                    

 Do not hurry as you walk with grief; it does not help the journey. Walk slowly, pausing often: do not hurry as you walk with grief. Be not disturbed by memories that come unbidden. Swiftly forgive; and let the Spirit speak for you unspoken words. Be not disturbed. Be gentle with the one who walks with grief. If it is you, be gentle with yourself. Swiftly forgive; walk slowly, pausing often. Take time, be gentle as you walk with grief.  –Celtic Daily Prayer: Prayers and Readings from the Northumbria Community

Teaching:

The process of grieving is not a linear progression, but steps you repeat over and over. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself is the gift of time to grieve and to be gentle with yourself and others who are also grieving. Each grieves in their own way and in their own time. When you talk honestly about how you feel, you may grow closer to others, becoming more aware of aspects of the world that you might otherwise have missed.

When you first experience loss, it is an enormous boulder that sits in front of you. It is huge and heavy and seems impossible to move. At first it might take all your strength, but you can inch it forward. You move it a little more, then a little more – until slowly, gradually, it starts rolling more easily. As it rolls, it gets smaller and smaller. One day, it is a small rock that you can pick up, put in your pocket, and carry with you. It is still a treasured part of your life, but it no longer prevents you from moving down life’s path.

George Eliot, a British author from the 19th century, wrote eloquently about this idea, “She no longer was wrestling with grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts.”

Candle Reflection:

Leader: We gather to remember those whom we love but see no longer. We accept the healing power of God’s love and pray that we might feel that love surround us as we walk the journey of grief.  Today we light five candles for grief, joy, thanksgiving, hope, and love.

Candle 1: The first candle represents our grief and the journey we will continue to travel. In grief we may have tears of anger, we may feel confused, we may question ourselves and God, and we may wonder what life really means. Grief will wash over us at the most unexpected moments and in these moments, we are reminded of our relationship and the love of the person whom we love but see no longer. 

How am I experiencing grief or loss today?

Lord, we lift our grief to you.

Candle 2: The second candle signifies the joy we knew with our loved one. We light this candle to remind us to celebrate the life we lived with them and to remember the joy we felt even in the midst of sorrow. Because we knew joy, we know that even in our sorrow, we will find joy again as we remember the life of the one we love.

Recall how Barry and Paul showed Joy and celebrated life.

Lord, we celebrate these memories, for the gift of joy.

Candle 3: The third candle is a candle of thanksgiving for all that our loved one brought to our lives. We pause in gratitude as we remember all that this person brought to our lives. We give thanks for the moments together, lessons learned, passions discovered, and love shared.

 Recall a gift or lesson that Barry and Paul each brought to your life or to this community. Lord, we give thank for these gifts.

Candle 4: The forth candle symbolizes hope. As we journey through our grief, remembering the joy, giving thanks for our loved one, and honoring what they have given us, may we also feel the hope of knowing the person is always with us. The love we felt and the memories we shared are with us forever. 

What is one thing you will carry forward in hope?

Lord, we lift our hopes to you.

Candle 5: The final candle is for love. With this candle we honor our love of the person who died, our love for each other, our love for this world, and our love of God. We honor the love that sustains us and brings us together. We give thanks the love of God who promises us that we never walk alone.  

 How will I carry the love expressed in their lives, into the world?

Lord we lift our love to you, bless it, that we might carry it into the world.

Leader: May the lights of these candles remind us of the light in our own lives. In the midst of our grief and loss, may we find joy, gratitude, hope, and love. 

 Amen