Summary: For Remembrance Sunday: getting past grief means crying out honestly and insistently for help, and it means having confidence in the God who raised Christ from the dead and thus defeated death itself.
The hymns we have sung and the Scriptures we have read have one important word that is common to all of them. That word is "morning". "Morning", as in "good morning". "Morning" is an important Biblical image.
I am leading us to worship around the symbol of morning today because I want us to use it as a way of understanding how we can work through the experience of loss and of grief. "Morning" is an important Biblical image which will help us come to grips with something that sooner or later affects us all -- and that is the loss by death of someone we love. All of us will eventually have to confront this. And our God, I believe, speaks to us through the "morning" image to help us.
By the way, I planned this message long before I knew that we would have an earlier morning than usual, thanks to daylight savings time! Aren’t you impressed that Congress decided to help me out with my sermon?
"Morning”. Now let’s try something: "Good morning". I see and hear a variety of responses. Some of you are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed; you are ready, and you shouted back, "Good morning". Others, however, since it is barely 11 :00 o’clock, will prop open one eye and murmur a blurred, "Goo mrn". You experience the morning of each day in quite a different way. A fair number of you would really prefer to answer, "What’s good about it?" But we have our own ways of responding to the new day.
Some manage, I am told, to get up every morning with both feet on the floor, with a gleam in their eyes, and with fire in their bellies. They seize each new day! "Let me at it!" Some are instantly awake, vibrant and alert, and say to each new morning, "I’ve been waiting for you." Isn’t that awful? Isn’t that intimidating? Thank goodness I am not married to one of those!
Others of us cannot quite believe that the sun has come up again, already, and that we really are expected actually to get out of the bed and get to that job ... now ... today ... within the next two hours! We have waited for the morning, but we are always a little disappointed that it got here. We experience morning in a different way.
I have the reputation, and it’s true, of being an early riser. For quite a few years I’ve set the alarm for 5 o’clock. The idea was to get some things accomplished in a disciplined way. My wife, however, says it’s crazy to get up that early because all I do is read the newspaper. And on a chilly day I think it’s crazy to get up that early just to get over here to the church by 8 o’clock; none of you want to hear from me at that hour!
If the truth be known, the only reason I can manage the morning at five is that I not only set the alarm clock; I also set the coffeemaker the night before, and can thus get going with the tank full of fresh caffeine!
Each one of us experiences morning in a different way. Each one of us brings to the mornings of our lives a different degree of patience, a different set of expectations, a different kind of hope.
Think for a moment about the way a baby experiences morning. You parents know about this. You finally get that little one settled down; you count it a real achievement when he no longer wants attention at two a.m. But when the sun comes up, up comes that insistent little voice, clamoring for attention, wanting, wanting, wanting. If it is true that babies are nothing but insatiable appetite at one end and total irresponsibility at the other end, at no time of the day is that more obvious than in the morning.
The smaller we are, the more insistent we are on having our needs met, right now, with no negotiations, thank you. Babies experience morning as a time for their needs to be fulfilled and their demands met.
Did you know that there are times when we need to be like new born babes in the morning, crying out for what we need to get by? There are times -- and there are many here today who have experienced them -- when the only way to get through the bleakness of despair and grief is to cry out for help and insist that it come ... that it come now. There are times when you and I have to have a baby’s kind of morning.
I think that’s a part of what is wrapped up in what Peter says when he enjoins us, "Like newborn babes, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up to salvation; for you have tasted the kindness of the Lord." Clamor for what you need right now, just like a baby would.