We Cannot Walk Alone

Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teaching. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

They responded, “We are Abraham’s children; we’ve never been anyone’s slaves. How can you say that we will be set free?”

Jesus answered, “I assure you that everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” -John 8:31-34

“They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.” -Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have a Dream,” August 28, 1963

Christ has set us free for freedom. Therefore, stand firm and don’t submit to the bondage of slavery again. – Galatians 5:1

There are many, many examples of Bible verses that talk about freedom. God is always working to set God’s people free from the bondage of slavery, sin, and oppression. In many of those cases, God’s people are literally enslaved. For instance, the Israelites are slaves in Egypt. They are later ruled over by the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Romans… to name a few.

Now, to be perfectly honest with you, I have pretty much always made those verses about slavery figurative when I read them. I don’t mean that I doubt the historic oppression, rather that I have a hard time connecting to it. I’ve never been enslaved to anything, held captive against my will, or forced to do anything more menial than helping with yard work at my own home. (To clarify, parents making their teenagers help with chores is not in any way like slavery.) In an individualistic way, just like the Jews speaking with Jesus, I can confidently say that I have never been anyone’s slave.

And, just as Jesus said to them, he would say to me: sin makes slaves of all of us. The brokenness and wickedness of the world catches us, even without our doing anything wrong, and we are bound up in it. When this happens, we need freedom. We cannot seize our own freedom. We must be set free. This is what Jesus does. Forgiveness and love break the chains of sin.

On this Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, I am reminded that my freedom is not enough. If I am satisfied with my freedom while my siblings languish in captivity, whether figurative or literal, then my freedom is in vain. MLK spoke of the sin of white supremacy and racism, holding Americans captive, all the while declaring that the love found in Jesus Christ could transform that evil into freedom. He spoke, too, about economic injustice. If my retirement account thrives while my neighbor cannot pay for their insulin, my freedom is in vain.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Did you notice that “us”? Freedom isn’t individualistic. Freedom happens in community, when we love and forgive one another on account of Jesus Christ. Freedom happens when we do the hard work of seeing those who are held captive and work against their oppression.

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month. This modern slavery impacts 40.3 million people around the world, including thousands right here in Iowa. These victims need freedom. Until our freedom drives us to set the captives free, our freedom is empty. To paraphrase MLK, our freedom is bound to the freedom of all who suffer in captivity.

We cannot reach freedom alone. We need each other. We need the grace of God shown in Jesus Christ. We who have been set free and forgiven must never submit again to slavery and sin. Not for ourselves. Not for anyone.

God of freedom, God of Abraham, God of Martin Luther King, God of me: show me your freedom and forgiveness. Make me bold to show your freedom and forgiveness to my community. Let freedom and forgiveness ring in my life. Amen.

Love over Fear

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us… And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…

We love because he first loved us.

-I John 4:7-12, 16-19a

 

Ever been afraid? Yeah, me too. Just this past week, it felt like a great deal of our country was afraid as we watched with bated breath, wondering if war with Iran was imminent. Or perhaps you were among those who fear for animals and wildlife threatened by the fires burning across Australia. Maybe you’re afraid of what the impending winter storm might bring these next 48 hours.

Or it could be that you’re not focused on those large-scale fears, but on something closer to home. Fear of disease, fear of money problems, fear of change– these might be problems that affect fewer people but are no less frightening because they are closer to home.

So what do you do, when you are afraid? Cry? Ignore it? Go for a walk? Watch Netflix? Call a friend? Pray? Eat something delicious and greasy? Try to fix it? Go shopping? All of the above? There are about as many reactions to fear as there are people. Yet, no matter how differently we react, we have one thing in common: we all get afraid sometimes.

Sometimes, when we’re scared, we get tempted to withdraw and close in on ourselves. The world seems scary, and hiding away seems like the easiest way to cope. This is sometimes called denial, pretending that our problems aren’t really there. We can also give into fear by focusing only on our fear, giving it even more power over our lives.

Faith offers a different way. Instead of denying our fear or focusing in on it, faith dares us to love when we are afraid. Love, the Bible tells us, “drives out fear.” Love sends fear packing. Love evicts fear, then changes the locks for good measure.

When we dare to love in the face of fear, we live like Jesus Christ calls us– not because we’re so great, but because God has loved us so abundantly that love pours right out of us. When we love, even with an imperfect love, we take away fear’s power. When fear threatens, we rely on God’s love for us. “God is love,” the passage says, and so it is God who drives out fear and fills us with love–God’s own loving self–whenever we are afraid.

God, you are love. Fill me with your love. Drive out my fear. Let me dare to love whenever I feel afraid. In your name I pray, amen.

Resolutions and Reconciliation

My New Year’s Resolution this year is to write 2020 instead of 2019.

You might be laughing, but I’m serious. That’s the big change I’m planning to make for the year. That’s as far as my self-improvement stretches. I’ve tried New Year’s Resolutions in the past (Learn Spanish! Write in a journal! Bake a better pie crust! Go to the gym!), with mixed success.

What I’ve noticed about New Year’s Resolutions is that they are, by and large, about making an effort to improve one’s self. Self-help and self-improvement are popular and lucrative for producers: in 2016, Americans spent $9.9 billion on books, personal coaches, seminars, and more, all in the name of being better. The trouble is that a lot of this just doesn’t work. We are not, it turns out, very good at fixing ourselves. We give up or lose interest and end up right back where we started. Resolutions tend to inward focused, and they also tend to fail within a matter of weeks. They work for some people, but not for everyone. Making a “new you” just doesn’t work.

Or does it? In 2 Corinthians 5:17-18, Paul wrote to that church: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation…”

Becoming a “new you” isn’t about getting a makeover or changing your habits. That transformation happens through Jesus Christ, who offers reconciliation instead of resolutions. You don’t need to improve yourself enough to please God because God is determined to reconcile us to him, whether we make our resolutions or not. The “new you” isn’t someone you create. He, or she, or they are someone God creates, a new creation in Christ, forgiven and reconciled to God.

That’s really how reconciliation happens, after all. God sees how far we’ve drifted apart, and resolutely comes along to invite repentance and offer forgiveness. With forgiveness comes reconciliation and the “new you.” Forgiveness is all it takes, and forgiveness doesn’t cost $9.9 billion. Forgiveness and reconciliation are free to us because they cost Jesus Christ everything..

I suppose I have two resolutions, actually. I am resolved to trust God to make the “new me” through the reconciliation that comes through Jesus Christ. I am resolved to be thankful that God already resolved to reconcile humanity with heaven those thousands of years ago. I think I can live with that.

Reconciling God, I thank you for your resolution to make a “new me” through Jesus Christ. Help me to bring forgiveness and reconciliation to the world in your name. Amen.

Blue Christmas

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28

Seven or eight Decembers ago, an Elvis Presley impersonator was performing at a nursing home. He crooned his way through “Burning Love,” “Hound Dog,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “All Shook Up,” and “Jailhouse Rock.” As he started to take requests for the next song, one of the residents asked for “Blue Christmas.”

The mood changed as he began to sing. One by one, those residents became thoughtful and quiet. By the looks on their faces, they were thinking of missing loved ones as “Elvis” crooned:

I’ll have a blue Christmas without you

I’ll be so blue just thinking about you

Decorations of red on a green Christmas tree

Won’t be the same dear, if you’re not here with me

Christmas is a hard time of year when life is hard. Many carols declare “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” or implore us to “have a holly, jolly Christmas.” But when we’re missing someone, or when we’re worried about a scary diagnosis, or when our heating bill is double our budget, or when we’re out of a job, or when we can’t travel to be with loved ones, or when the cold and dreary weather takes its toll on our moods, well, we’re not usually jolly. We’re blue.

If that’s you this year, you are not alone. “Blue Christmas” wouldn’t be such a popular song if it didn’t feel so true to so many people. Many people are sad for many different reasons. Even more people have mixed feelings, somewhere between glad and glum, as the good and bad of the season make their presence known.

I’ve even heard people say something is wrong with them if they feel sad at Christmas. Not true! You are allowed to be sad. You’re allowed to have a blue Christmas. You’re allowed to feel frazzled and overwhelmed. You don’t have to have it all together to have Christmas.

As an adult, Jesus would tell the people: come, all you weary ones, with heavy burdens, and I’ll give you rest. Notice that he did not say: come, everybody who’s got it all figured out, living your best life, impressing everyone around you, and you can take a break from your Pinterest-worthy, no-filter glory.

Are you weary this Christmas? Weary from grief or worry or fear or just plain keeping track of everything in your life this month? Then go to Jesus. He gives rest. Go to the manger. Go, like the shepherds, bringing no gift, only yourself. Rest at the manger with that exhausted mother, anxious father, and newborn king. Breathe in the sweet smell of hay and the sour smell of sheep, and rest.

Come to Jesus, all you who are weary and burdened, and rest.

God, when I am weary, give me rest. When I am blue, let me be with you. When I long for my burdens to be lifted, bring me to the manger of Jesus Christ, where I will find rest for my soul. Amen.

Listen.

They will not hurt or destroy

on all my holy mountain;

for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord

as the waters cover the sea.

-Isaiah 11:9

A remarkable thing happened last Sunday. I was sitting and listening to the reader speak the words of the prophet Isaiah. She was reading chapter 11, and when she got to verse 9, a strange and wondrous thing happened. As her treble voice read the words “They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea,” I heard a second, deeper voice speaking, as if two voices were in perfect unison. One part of my brain said, “Huh, the sound system is acting up,” just as another part of my brain firmly said, “This is God’s voice. Listen up.” Was it a bug in the sound system or was it really the voice of God?

As my internal debate started to fire up, I heard myself repeat what a friend pointed out to me a few weeks ago when I was unsure what I thought about something: “A thing can be two things.” God can speak through a funky microphone moment. I don’t really know how that doubled voice happened, and I’m okay with it. I’m trusting the voice that said, “It’s God. Listen up.”

Of course, once I settled on that truth, I was left with a new conundrum: what should I do? No, no, not the lofty question, not what should I do about this message. I as asking a far more mundane question: should I tell anyone? Would they think I was nuts? What if I was wrong about this whole encounter? What if they didn’t think I was nuts and, worse yet, started to expect me to hear God’s voice like that all the time?

I began to feel a great deal of sympathy for Joseph, actually. Twice in the gospel of Matthew, Joseph receives a message from God in a dream, and you know what he says about it? Nothing. Joseph says absolutely nothing to anyone about these divine messages. In fact, Joseph never speaks at all in the entire Bible. I mean, we’ve gotta assume he told somebody sometime so they’d know to put those stories into Matthew, but it seems like he wasn’t eager to say anything right away. He listened to the messages, and did what God commanded, but he wasn’t telling anybody why.

I wonder how long it took Joseph to work up the courage to tell someone about his dreams. Did he tell Mary first? Or did he whisper to a toddler Jesus the story of the angel messengers? Did he question whether the dreams were really from God or if it was just yesterday’s burrito talking back to him? Was Joseph excited when the angels appeared in his dreams, or was he terrified? Maybe it was a little bit of both. He was human, after all.

The people in the Bible are people just like us. They ask questions like ours. They get scared. They get angry. They act impulsively. Sometimes, they just need a nap and a snack. They also love God. They care for one another. They do their very best to listen to God, just like we try to do. Some of them needed time to figure things out before they told anyone about their encounter with God. Others went straight into the streets to tell anyone who would listen. Both responses are faithful ones.

God, help me listen for your voice. When I hear it, help me follow you. Keep me faithful, like Joseph and Mary, like the shepherds and magi, like all your dear children. Amen.

Saint Nicholas

Today, December 6, is Saint Nicholas Day. Around the world, children are waking up to discover candy and fruit and small toys tucked inside their shoes. (But wait a minute, you’re thinking, I thought Santa Claus came on Christmas Day!) Well, you’re not wrong: many people, especially Americans, smoosh St. Nicholas into Santa Claus and do the whole thing together with Christmas. In Europe, St. Nicholas Day is quite a bit more significant, however. Children put out their shoes or stockings before bed on December 5, and when they awaken in the morning, the shoes have been filled with treats.

It’s an odd tradition, when you step back and think about it. Candy in a shoe? Toys in a pair of socks? Why?

The story goes like this: Nicholas was a man who lived in modern-day Turkey from 270-343. He was the only child of wealthy Christian parents. They died when he was a young man, leaving Nicholas with a great deal of wealth. Nicholas was not at all greedy and preferred to live a simple life, so his wealth was largely untouched.

In another part of the city, there was a poor man who had three daughters. The daughters were growing up to adulthood, but the poor man couldn’t afford to provide them with money to get married. (In those days there was an expectation that brides bring a dowry into their marriages if they wanted to find good husbands.) Since the man was so poor, the girls were at risk of being trafficked into sex work in order to feed themselves.

When Nicholas heard about it, he took a sack of gold and went to the house at night. The girls had hung their stockings at the window to dry overnight, so he carefully dropped the gold into the oldest girl’s stocking. Thanks to Nicholas, she was able to marry and escape poverty and exploitation. Nicholas repeated the anonymous gift for the second daughter. By the time the third was old enough to marry, the poor father had gotten curious about their mystery benefactor, so he stayed up at night to see if another bag of gold was forthcoming. When Nicholas arrived in the night, the poor father recognized him at once and spread the word about Nicholas and his generosity all over the city.

Nicholas later became a bishop and was part of the group that created the Nicene Creed. While he was there, the legends say he got in a heated argument about the nature of Jesus Christ. While his opponent disagreed, Nicholas firmly insisted that Jesus Christ was of the same nature as God, not just similar to God. According to the story, Nicholas was so angry at this that he slapped his opponent. He was then asked to leave the meeting.

There’s a lot more to the life of St. Nicholas than I’ve written here. I share these two stories, though, to make one point: as Christians, we can have different ways of relating to different people. With the needy, vulnerable girls, Nicholas was recklessly generous. He didn’t start with a lecture to the girls about their sex lives or make the father feel guilty for failing to provide. He just gave what they needed. It was very different with that guy at the Nicene Creed meeting. He was a powerful leader of the church. It was really important that he get things right to avoid misleading his community.

Like Nicholas, when we see someone in desperate need who we can help, we don’t need to ask questions to determine their worthiness. We just need to help. And when we see someone in a position of power and influence, it’s right to hold them accountable to what they say. It’s not just good to do these things- it’s saint-like.

Dear God, thank you for your generosity toward me, shown in Jesus Christ and reflected in people like St. Nicholas. Help me to live a generous and thoughtful life in all ways. Amen.

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Some Assembly Required

“Certainly the body isn’t one part but many… You are the body of Christ and parts of each other.” -1 Corinthians 12:14, 27

“God doesn’t look at things like humans do. Humans see only what is visible to the eyes, but the Lord sees into the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7b

“Therefore, imitate God like dearly loved children. Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us.” -Ephesians 5:1-2a

 

For his birthday, my five-year-old was given a giant box of Lego bricks in every shape and size and color imaginable. Last week, he pointed at the picture of a ship on the Lego box and instructed me to build it. There were no instructions, just a photo of the ship. Did I mention there are over 1000 Lego pieces in that box?

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Well, I tried. As a perfect copy of the model, it wasn’t great. It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great. I was a bit disappointed. And you know what? The kid didn’t care. He had a Lego ship, and that was good enough. Delighted with what I made, off he sailed, and that was that.

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As people and especially as Christians, we sometimes get too caught up in trying to get it just right. How often have you said to yourself: ‘I could never do that as well as they do, so I won’t even try!”? We are paralyzed by our own shortcomings and give up before we begin. After all, you can’t fail if you never try, right?

The other version of trying to get it just right is to believe that someone else’s way of doing it is the only right way, and to tirelessly imitate them until we are just like them. That was what I was going for with the Lego ship, and, to be honest, it was impossible. I couldn’t really tell how to build the ship because all I had was one angle on the finished product. We can’t look at a person and see what’s going on inside them or what got them to where they are. Our perspective is limited, so it’s no surprise that when we try to be just like someone else, we fail.

So what are we supposed to do? If we know what we’d like to be, the kind of person we want to become, how do we get there from here?

First of all, the world does not need another one of the person you so desperately want to copy. It needs you. God made you as you are, a member of the body of Christ, so just go right ahead and stop trying to be somebody else.

Second, you can’t see what’s in someone else’s heart and mind. Trying to reproduce what you can’t see is just plain silly. God, and only God, sees each person’s heart, including yours. You are not called, as a Christian, to be just like other Christians. You’re called to be like you.

Third, and most important of all, if you must have a role model, live like Jesus. Imitate God, who loves us and all people unconditionally. Accept everyone else just as they are. Forgive anyone who hurts you. Accept and love and forgive yourself. God does, after all.

And if it’s not picture perfect, if you’re not exactly the way you had hoped you would be, if you don’t meet your own high expectations, well, you’re not a Lego ship. God is delighted in you.

God, when I am disappointed in what I have to offer, when I don’t live up to the person I hope to be, remind me that I am who you created. You forgive and love me as I am. Make me an imitator of you and no one else. Amen.

Slow Down

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. There is more to life than food and more to the body than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither plant nor harvest, they have no silo or barn, yet God feeds them. You are worth so much more than birds! Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? If you can’t do such a small thing, why worry about the rest?” -Luke 12:22-26

A week ago, I asked a group of elementary schoolers if they knew what holiday was coming up at the end of this month.

“CHRISTMAS!”

That’s not until the next month, I said. This month is November, and at the end of November, we celebrate Thanksgiving. We talked a little about the people for whom we’re thankful, but the start of the conversation stuck with me.

How often do you brush right past Now in favor of Next? Or, to put it another way, how much time do you spend worrying and planning for the future instead of living each day as it happens? We do this all throughout our lives: little kids want to be big enough to go to school, big kids want to be old enough to graduate, college students want to find a job and move out, parents of little kids want them to sleep through the night, middle aged adults want to save up for retirement, folks in retirement look forward to their next trip or family gathering, and hardly any of us manage to just be present in the present.

The people I know who are best at being present are people for whom the future has been uncertain. They’re the people living paycheck to paycheck who don’t see why they should bother about a future that might go wrong anyway. They’re the ones who have faced disease and known that each day might be their last. They’re the ones who have lived through turmoil, at home or in war or any other way, knowing that tomorrow is shaky, at best.

And you know what? They are, by and large, so willing to accept it. Not in a resigned sort of way. It’s a peaceful acceptance, the kind that only comes when you trust that the One who has power over your life loves you. It’s the acceptance that you don’t have control, but you trust God’s promise to be with you and care for you anyway. In fact, all the ways that we lose control over our lives can be reminders that when we worry and trust ourselves over God, we’re trying to take on a responsibility that’s not ours.

Instead, we can trust God to be God. We can let ourselves just be human. When we stop trying to catch up to what’s next, when we put our attention on what’s happening right now, we are trusting God to take care of the future. We are listening to Jesus telling the disciples not to worry about things they cannot control. We’re living in the present, in the right-now gift God has given us, and trusting God for everything else.

God, help me keep my focus on the present instead of the future. Let me trust you in all things. Teach me to worry less and trust more. Amen.

One Little Thing

Jesus said, “I assure you that if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Go from here to there,’ and it will go. There will be nothing that you can’t do.”

-Matthew 17:20

Faith the size of a mustard seed can move a whole mountain? That sounds awfully implausible. What can a mustard seed, that small speck, do against something as vast as a mountain? Does Jesus have unrealistic expectations?

Well, here’s a different scenario: I was driving to Iowa City one day, and about two minutes down the road, I realized there was a fly in my car. No big deal, I thought. It’s just a little fly. What harm could it do?

Oy. Half an hour later, that tiny fly was the most annoying creature I’d ever encountered, and I was just about ready to invoke all the angry psalms in a prayer for its swift demise. It flew around my head. It buzzed in my ears. It landed on the steering wheel. If you’ve ever been trapped in an enclosed space with a fly, you know what I mean.

But the fly was so tiny! It wasn’t a great big horsefly. It was just a little one. It still managed to pester and annoy me all the way there. It seemed bigger and bigger the longer I sat in the car with it. It got me thinking: if a fly can do so much damage in half an hour, what other tiny things can cause trouble in our lives?

Most conflicts between people don’t start with a great big fight, after all. They start with something little, an annoyance or a slight that sticks around, irritating you until you snap. The same is true for abuse, addiction, and affairs: little steps in the wrong direction get bigger and bigger until everything is out of control and somebody has gotten somewhere they never intended to be. For that matter, even guilt and shame can be like a fly: it sneaks up on you, buzzing around, until you can’t think of anything else.

Looks like Jesus wasn’t being unrealistic after all. Small things have big consequences. It’s true about flies, and sin, … and faith. Even the smallest amount of faith, a tiny seed, can do remarkable things. A little bit of faith can lead someone to trust God on a day when everything goes wrong. A little bit of faith can lead someone to ask for help when they feel overwhelmed. A little bit of faith can keep someone going when life seems hopeless. Perhaps, if faith buzzes around enough, it could even move a mountain. Small, seemingly insignificant steps of faith can take us to a place where even mountains can be moved.

Faith, at its core, is the trust we have that God keeps promises to us. A tiny bit of faith is enough to trust that when Jesus Christ calls us disciples, that is what we are. A small seed of faith is enough to trust that when our heavenly Father calls us beloved Children, that is what we are. A little speck of faith is enough to trust that when the Holy Spirit calls us forgiven, that is what we are.

God, Father Son and Holy Spirit, give me enough faith to trust your promises. Guard me from every little sin. Let my faith be the size of a mustard seed. Amen.

All Saints Day

All Saints Day is celebrated each year on November 1. Who is a saint? To put it simply, a saint is a forgiven sinner. On All Saints Day, we remember those forgiven sinners who have lived and died, not perfectly, but trusting in Jesus Christ.

All Saints Day is a day to remember. We remember famous names, recognized by many, and we remember everyday names of people in our lives who were God’s beloved. I invite you to take time today to remember. Maybe light a candle or perhaps just take a few minutes to remember the ones you have loved who now rest with God:

 

I remember the great ancestors of my faith,

from Abraham and Sarah, to Peter and Mary Magdalene:

I remember the prophets and priests,

the ministers and teachers who have taught me the way of God:

I remember my grandparents and parents, aunts and uncles,

those who have gone before me in my lifetime.

I lift up the memories of children and grandchildren,

Siblings and cousins, spouses and parents

whose lives ended too soon:

I lift up the pain of pregnancy and infant loss,

Often carried silently, trusting that you hold all children in your love.

I lift up to You, O God,

the names of those I have lost in this past year from my life,

knowing that they are with Your heart forever.

Comfort me in my grief, and strengthen my faith,

That I may be reunited with them at the feast that never ends.

I lift up to you, O God,

All those who have been baptized into Jesus Christ,

Knowing that they belong to you as children of the kingdom,

and trusting that when you call us children of God, that is what we are.

Uphold us in faith, and nurture your whole church

By the power of your Holy Spirit.

I give thanks, O God,

for all who have gone on to join with You beyond this life

and for all who walk as yet by faith and not by sight.

I trust in the hope of resurrection and the promise of new life in Christ,

and know that in my grief and celebration, O God,

You are with me through it all, and I am not left alone.

I anticipate the day when every tear shall be wiped from my eyes,

And I shall gather around the throne of God with all the saints.

In the name of Christ, in whom love lives forever, I pray.

Amen.