Summary: We take charge of reducing our grief when we first trust ourselves, then trust others in redemptive relationships, and ultimately trust God, who raised Christ from the dead.
Granger Westberg, in his little book, Good Grief, says that when you have something worth grieving about, then go ahead and grieve, but grieve in a healthy way. Westberg agrees that the Bible says, "Do not grieve as those do who have no hope", but that does not mean we do not grieve. When you have something worth grieving about, then go ahead and grieve, but in a healthy way.
That is the thinking behind the messages of last Sunday and of today. We’ve had many losses among us lately: parents, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, on and on. It feels like a heavy burden for some of us right now. But I am convinced that the Christian faith and its message of good news can be heard in times like these.
The theme is doubly appropriate today. Here we are at Halloween. Halloween is a kind of corruption of our very natural human feelings about death. The church in the middle ages began the practice of remembering those who had gone on, especially those it called saints; saints were believers who had achieved spiritual distinction, and the church wanted to remember them and appreciate them. Nothing wrong with that.
So the church designated November 1 as All Saints Day. The first day of each November was to be a day on which Christians would remember in prayerful appreciation all those who had passed before.
But this Christian observance got all mixed and mingled with pagan beliefs, so that the notion grew up that on the night before All Saints Day, or All Hallows Day, the dead emerge from their graves and the goblins and ghosts and other ghoulish things will be about. The Eve of All Hallows, or Halloween, became an ugly corruption of something that could have been beautiful. Instead of releasing our fears about death, Halloween became something which increased those fears. Instead of taking away anxiety about this awesome reality, it made anxiety worse. Instead of remembering those who had achieved spiritual distinction, Halloween and All Saints Day remembered the bizarre and the horrifying.
I hope we can recover what was originally intended. I hope we can remember, reconnect, and rejoice with the mercies of God. I hope we can turn even this most peculiar of days into something that proclaims the love of Christ.
Last week the scene was around the cross of Jesus, where several people were gathered. As your sermon outline sheet reminds you, we thought about what God will give those who grieve: how God will give us a time to remember and accept our old wounds; then how God will teach us to see each other in a new light, providing us ways to fulfill our need to care and to be cared for, to reconnect; finally, we saw that God will give us an understanding presence, for He too knows what it is to grieve, He too knows what it is to lose someone precious. Remembering, Reconnecting, and Rejoicing.
The scene today is the very same one, Jesus on the cross, with his mother, his beloved disciple, and some others. Our children are going to present the scene to us, as it might have happened: