December 3, 2015

One of the significant member-led ministries of LABC is our Grief and Loss Ministry. Alean Saunders-Coffey and Jeanne Robinson are the cofacilitators of this much needed endeavor. Grief and loss are components of every life. To live is to grieve. To live is to suffer loss. Thus, I am most grateful for this effort dedicated to walking with people in the midst of great pain.

As many of you can attest, the month of December can be a really hard month. Losses are remembered. Absences are accentuated. There is guilt when one has a hard time singing “Joy To The World.” In recognition of this reality the Grief and Loss Ministry invites you to a “Blue Christmas Service” following worship on December 13. This service will provide a space to acknowledge that for the grieving, the holidays can be really hard. Further, it will be publishing a devotional booklet with thoughts, prayers, scriptures, songs and other resources intended to be of help to the hurting.

I was happy to be asked to contribute something to this booklet. My offerings follow. I share them with you in appreciation for the good work of our Grief and Loss Ministry, in recognition that laughter and tears both have a place in our Advent and Christmas celebrations and in the hope that you might find them helpful.

Two Reflections For LABC Grief and Loss Ministry Devotional

Matthew 5:4

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

The great scholars of the New Testament tell us that when Jesus teaches “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” He is saying something like this: “When your soul is aching because of a personal loss or because the pain of the world has broken your heart, please know you are in the right place. Your pain means you are connected to the world that God loves and to the God who longs to mend your heart. When you are so connected, there is hope.”

Helen Keller put it this way “We bereaved are not alone. We belong to the largest company in all the world – the company of those who have known suffering. When it seems that our sorrow is too great to be borne, let us think of the great family of the heavy-hearted into which our grief has given us entrance, and inevitably, we will feel about us their arms, their sympathy, their understanding.”

Philippians 4:6-7

“Do not worry about anything; but in everything with prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all human thought, will stand sentinel over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

I really like Leonard Sweet’s seven word summary of these great words of Paul.

Worry – Never
Prayer – Always
Thanksgiving – Everything
Peace

May Your Christmas Be Gentle,

Jim H.