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Summary: For Remembrance Sunday, honoring those who had died the previous year. Some dreams are deferred but not forgotten; we can prepare those who come after us to fulfill them. And the future of our church needs to share in the magnificence of its original dr

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Takoma Park Baptist Church, Washington, DC May 17, 1992

Today is Remembrance Day in the life of our church. We take a Sunday each year following Easter and remember in a special way those who of our worshipping congregation who have passed away since the previous Easter.

In this way we hope to enshrine them more completely in the spiritual memory of the church. Not only are their names forever on the church's records, but more importantly, their names, already known in the heart of God, are lifted up one more time in the hearts of the congregation. To remember them is to love them, to make them fully a part of our history.

We hope too that this exercise will be one in which you, the members of their families, complete your grieving. We hope that today is a spiritual resource in helping each of you come to terms more fully with your loss. Each one of you has been prayed for many times, but today we come to do so once again, simply believing that our God answers prayer, our God loves you, and our God will comfort you.

And not these alone, but today we are aware of many others of you who have lost those whom you have loved. They may not have been in our church as such, but they were in the hearts of our church's people.

Now, where do you find meaning in your life? Where did these whom we name in our memories today discover meaning? Is this life of ours, whether brief or lengthy, as the poet suggested, "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing"? Or can life have meaning?

The apostle Paul comes to terms with this in his magnificent statement, II Corinthians 4:16-5:1: "We do not lose heart … for we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens."

In a few moments you and I are going to think about the builders of this house not made with hands. We are going to discover together how to build a life with substance and meaning.

But right now I simply want to pray with and for each one of you, as best I can, conveying God’s love for you and His care for those whom you loved. Can we just join hands and pray together?

Lord of life and God of our creation, we praise you that you have set the solitary in families, creating among us relationships of love and affection which enrich our lives beyond measure. We are grateful, Lord, that none of us needs to live to himself and that none of us needs to die to himself, but that whether we live or die, we are yours. And so today we are remembering thanksgiving those we are naming in our hearts, but we are also confessing before you. We are confessing our own fear of death. We are not ready to gentle into that good night. We are afraid of what we cannot see or test. Calm our fears, 0 Lord, with a vision of the risen Christ. And we are confessing that we feel guilty about some of the things we did or said or did not do or did not say with these whom we are naming. Some of us still have that nagging worry about never quite arriving at closure, never quite making everything right. Dispel our guilt, 0 Lord, with a vision of the Cross, on which our Christ broke down all the walls of division and worked a work of reconciliation. Now, Lord, I pray that each one here will receive from your grace the power to set aside anything which holds him or her back from finishing the task of mourning. I pray that your heart will reach out to each of these hearts, so that they may be ready to say, "It is well, it is well, with my soul."


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