Reflections on Grieving And All Saints’ Day
As the leaves fall from the trees, now, with the traditional cold rain, which usually accompanies this time of year, it is appropriate that we explore grieving, and why human beings grieve, and as November 1st approaches and passes, it’s appropriate that we remember those who have made positive differences in our faith lives.
Whenever there is change in our lives, grief accompanies it. We are all creatures of habit, and grow used to doing things certain ways. And because we form relationships with others, with whom we grow close, when those relationships change, or, if we should lose a significant other to death, a spouse, a child, a close friend, or other family member, it is as if part of us is torn away at the time of loss.
As I write this, it is approaching the first anniversary of the loss of my closest friend, the Reverend Dennis Hensley who had been the pastor of LaFontaine United Methodist Church. Dennis died as the result of a burst aortic aneurysm. He was 50 years old. And even though all of his close friends, who mostly were United Methodist Clergy in North Indiana Conference, were present for the day when we celebrated the hope we have in Christ’s Resurrection, and we remembered Dennis’ life, and also the hope we have because God raised Christ from the dead, I have to admit that Dennis’ loss was a keen loss to all of us in the North Indiana Conference. His faith in Christ, his work to bring about racial equality and justice, and to bring a “practical” form of Christianity into play in our annual conference is something that simply cannot be replaced. Oh, it’s true, there are others among us who will try to bring those qualities to ministry, but there cannot be another Dennis.
You probably know someone like him, someone who was “the” person to whom you went when you had really difficult problems to discuss and work through. People who stand in that kind of relationship with us are few and far between. There are many acquaintances, and friends “on the periphery,” but very few soul friends.
Now, that I have moved to Wabash, and am no longer in Fort Wayne, I am closer to where my friend was in ministry in his last appointment. LaFontaine isn’t very far from where I live. I constantly run into people who were touched by his ministry.
As I grow older, I am constantly reminded by the people among whom I serve, that the Church of Jesus Christ is truly a wondrous thing. The generations of Christians who have preceded us, back to the time of Jesus Himself, has made a tremendous difference in a positive way in our world. As Christians we believe that we are part of what the Apostles’ Creed calls, “the communion of the saints,” which is a way of saying “friends above in heaven, and friends on earth below.” We are all connected in the mystical body of Christ. And though this is hard to understand, all of us, who are bound to Jesus Christ through faith, as brothers and sisters in the faith, form a vast family, whose numbers are too great to count. The Bible would call us a “multitude.”
So, as this All Saints’ Day approaches and passes, and we reflect on those who have truly “kept the faith,” and “fought the good fight,” and have made a tremendous difference in this world, those of us here on earth must determine to hold our courses and keep making a difference morally, in faith, in love, in mercy and justice so that those who have gone before us will not have served or died in vain.
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12 RSV
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