All Saints Sunday
November 1, 2020
Today is All Saints Day. This is a day that we set aside to give God thanks for the people that have gone before us and have lived lives of faith.
This is not an easy day because we long to be with those who are no longer physically here. We still miss their presence and all that made them special people in our lives.
Our church office manager is Debbie Bing. She, her husband, and four children lived in Baskerville, Virginia. Debbie’s husband was a farmer and he also worked a 2nd shift public job for a company that even carried him out of the country for a while.
They were happy, enjoyed life, served the Lord, and they were a hard-working loving family. Then tragedy struck when William was killed in a one-vehicle accident, leaving Debbie with children to raise from ages 6 – 14.
Debbie permitted me to tell you about one aspect of her grief.
She said that for years after William’s death, there would be times when she would catch a glimpse of a man walking into a store or in a crowd from a distance, something about him would remind her of her husband.
It might be the way he walked, the way he carried himself, his profile, or his beard. She said, “I know this sounds strange, but sometimes the likeness would be so powerful that I would follow him to get a closer look, just to make sure it wasn’t him.”
Grief affects us all in many different ways.
What Debbie described is not so strange. What she experienced has been experienced by many others.
Most people that grieve wonder if what they are feeling is normal.
It is easy to convince ourselves that no one could understand our thoughts or our emotions during grief, because at times we don’t even understand them ourselves.
While everyone’s grief takes its own winding road, I assure you, the emotions you have and are experiencing as you grieve are not unique.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”
There is no feeling of grief that you can have that someone has not experienced before.
God is not surprised by the emotions that you have, or even if at times you can’t seem to feel at all.
Even you feel distant, lonely, afraid, angry, or if you are emerging from deep grief and you are beginning to find new purpose, acceptance, opportunities, and some joy returning, these emotions are your emotions and they are no surprise to God.
They are part of what it means to be human. Emotions are part of what it means to be created in God’s image.
Emotions just are. Most emotions are neither good nor bad. But emotions cease to become neutral and become either positive or negative as we decide how we are going to respond and whether the emotions are going to control us or whether we are going to be in control of us — or a better way to is allow our lives to be controlled by God’s Spirit.
In extreme instances, emotions can take us down dark paths that are harmful to us and others, but most of the time, the emotions we feel during grief are common emotions that can be worked through in healthy ways.
There are a lot of things that we can do that will positively affect how we feel even as we grieve.
There is power in prayer.
There is great encouragement found in scripture and other books.
Exercise is one of the best forms of grief therapy one can have.
Eating properly, journaling, rituals, talking about our loved one, remembering, laughing, talking to a counselor, doing things to honor or memorize our loved one, writing a letter to our loved one on his/her birthday or a special anniversary, are all things that can impact our emotions and help us process our grief.
Today, we remember these our family and friends by placing their names on this memorial stone. While they are no longer physically here, they remain with us in our hearts.
We see them in our dreams. We hear their voices calling out to us during the day as different things, events, objects, smells, or sayings remind us of them. They continue to instruct us by what they have taught us. They continue to guide us by the lives they have led.
Today we place their names on our memorial stone but more importantly celebrate that their names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life long ago.
For some of you, you have their very likeness, mannerisms, and habits within you that make you who you are. For others, you have their promises of love, companionship, and faithfulness that you will always cherish. Still others, we have memories of their friendship, examples, and lessons they taught us which serve as lights on our path.
We are all comforted in knowing that all of these chose to live faithfully as disciples of Jesus, whose lives we all seek to immolate.
Would you now give God thanks for each of them and say a prayer for their families?
Doris Beeco Feb 12
Glenda Blackstock Feb 13
Jane Bryan March 23
Robby Kinney April 28
Hilda Corbett June 21
Stan Strickland July 1
May these our friends continue to teach us by the examples they leave with us. As we honor and remember them today, may their lives inspire us to live in a way that will be honoring to you so we will leave too will leave a legacy of love and service to You and those around us.
Photo Credit: https://gscc.net/event/1451305-2019-11-01-all-saints-day/