When It's Good to Have a Church
June 24, 2012
2 Corinthians 5:1
"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."
Reflection by Lillian Daniel
In the days after a death, a family will gather in my church office to discuss the service. Their arms will be full of folders of notes, legal pads with "to do" lists, bags full of records and documents. They have so much to do, and now the service.
There's often a moment when they start to ask me questions about how all this works, as if they are the first people to ever plan a service, as if they must invent it all from scratch, since that's how all the other items on that overwhelming "to do" list feel. It is then that as a pastor, I get to say, "It's OK. Let your church take it from here."
Every funeral service is a last-minute affair, but we've done this before. We're here for you. We have traditions and people on hand, musicians ready to appear at a moment's notice, cooks ready to bake and make coffee, a sanctuary that is waiting to take you and your grief in. You have a church.
Church members seem to immediately get it when I say all this. There's a moment when they understand they will not be on their own here. They have a church.
But when some of those gathered do not have a church, they are harder to reassure. It's as if they can't quite trust that we've done this before. "Have you thought of this?" they ask. "Can someone take care of that?" And when I nod, it's like they don't quite believe it. They don't have that trust, that relationship, with a church.
That's why at times of grief, it means so much to have a church. There's someone to say, "We'll take it from here." And you might actually believe it.
May God bless the grieving, the churched and the unchurched, with peace in the sanctuary when they need it the most. Amen.
"I Do! – Getting Ready for Marriage: Today's Guide for Couples," from the Stillspeaking Writers' Group.
Ms. Christina Villa
Minister for Resources and Communications
Publishing, Identity, and Communication
Local Church Ministries/Office of General Ministries
700 Prospect Ave.