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Emmanuel

December 12, 2011
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Last week, I participated in one of my favorite Christmas traditions. Our local funeral home hosts a Service of Remembrance during the Christmas season. While all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays swirls around us, many of us appreciate a quiet oasis to pause, reflect, and remember. When we lose a loved one, we want to make the world stop and pay tribute, even if just for a short period of time. We soon realize the world is not going to stop, or even slow down for us, so we will need to make our own space to grieve. 

What happens at a service like this? We realize that grief unites us. Whether it is preparing for the service with some of my other gifted ministry colleagues or the formal gathering of citizens from our community, we share a common desire to support one another in our season of grief. 

More striking to me is to simply observe the importance people place on remembering their loved one. Last week, we had a gentleman come to pay tribute to his wife of 66 years. We also had a mom who was looking for ways to pay tribute to a 20 year old daughter who died. I watched as people, who seemed too young, lit a candle for a lost spouse. I observed the weight of the backwards order of the world when a parent has to light a candle for a child. I saw the gratitude with which a child pays tribute one more time to her parents. 

I’m reminded by fellow pilgrims that amidst the busyness of the holidays, people are carrying much more than packages. In our hearts and minds, we carry memories. Those who have recently experienced a loss feel a deep emotional impact. Grief is difficult during the holidays. If we feel sad, we feel guilty for taking the joy out of the season for others. If we feel happy, we feel guilty for having fun when we should still be mourning. 

This observance gave us all a safe place to stop and remember. We could cry and not worry about what others were thinking. We could talk about our loss and not have people tell us it is time to move on. We could be honest with our feelings and this helps us to be able to enjoy the other activities. 

I encourage you, whether for yourself or for others, to take some time to be still and remember. Recall with gratitude special times you have shared. Give a friend permission to talk about his loss. The Word became flesh in order to enter the entire human experience. Grief and sadness are a part of that experience. It is good to remember, especially during the happy holidays, that even in the lowest points of our pilgrimage, God is with us.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kathleen Kichline permalink
    December 12, 2011 2:35 PM

    Phil –

    You eloquently but simply put into words what that evening was like. I pray that other folks are inspired as well to slow down, remember and be as kind to themselves as they strive to be toward others

    – Kathleen

  2. December 16, 2011 8:19 AM

    This night never ceases to amaze me. People with holes in their hearts from loss come in as strangers and leave with new friends and partners to walk the long road of grief. Powerful

    Craig

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