Last Saturday, St. James came together as a community for the funeral of a long-time member, Sharon Bloch. The church was packed as nearly three hundred fifty people filled the sanctuary. Tangible signs of love and support surrounded Sharon’s husband Del and their kids, grandkids, and great grandkids.
Being present in times of grief has long been a core value of Christian community. Before Christians had designated buildings for worship – when it was only prayers, songs, scripture, and table – our spiritual ancestors found it important to offer mutual care and support.
In light of the resurrection, Christians hope in God to bring about restoration in the broken and hurting places of life. Christian funerals have long been times when trust in the sure and certain hope of resurrection takes center stage.
Saturday was another example of this long-held tradition. We came together in the midst of sorrow and grief to celebrate the gift of eternal life that God gives us. Even though that gift does not make the pain and sorrow magically disappear – it gives needed strength. Knowing that we are not alone, that we are with others and with God, lifts our tired and weary souls.
I am grateful for the community of St. James that comes together whenever we find the joy of life overcast with the shadow and reality of death. Thankful for the leadership of Doreen Evans – Director of Ministry and Operations – and her compassionate coordination of ministry and events. Thankful for the leadership of Lela Valentine – Funeral Luncheon Ministry Host – who gathers a cadre of volunteers to make bars and offer hospitality. Grateful for the musical leadership of Jan Pofahl, our Pastoral Care Team (Birdie Olson and Karen Krafka) who help with liturgy, and Jeff Andrews making sure that it all sounds good. Thankful for Gail Pederson who makes sure our church home is clean and that tables/chairs are where they need to be for large gatherings. Thank you to all who gave time and energy on Saturday so that St. James was able to offer hospitality and care.
Funerals are not planned long in advance. They usually interrupt the normal flow of things. In a moment’s notice, they remind us of how much life is fragile and precious. Also, funerals remind us in an instant of how important it is to have a church community to surround, care, and lift up God’s promises. Thank you for your gifts of time, talent, and treasure which provide these essentials.
As always, I look forward to seeing you in worship.