Future Planning

2nd Sunday before Lent

Revelation 4
Luke 8:22-25

A new friend of mine (Darcy Chesterfield-Terry) is being inducted into the next door parish (Datchet & Colnbrook) tomorrow evening and I am so thrilled for them and him. I have spent the last year covering various services & offices at St Mary and St Thomas and have enjoyed my time there. It has made me think about what I would be looking for in my next parish as I should be in a similiar situation in the next few months. So this is what I would like my next (but as yet unknown parish) to know about what I believe about being a worshipping church!

You are on the cusp of a new season in this parish and it is going to be exciting! I have been thinking a lot this week about you, the congregations of St Mary and St Thomas and Darcy as I will hopefully be in a similar situation in the next few months – not sure when or where though.

It got me to thinking about what I would want my new (although as yet unknown) congregation to know about what I believe about being church. I am going to be brave and tell you what I would want them to know and I hope this lands in the right place for you this morning. You can tell me later or tomorrow evening if I am completely naïve!

I do like the Book of Revelation and I always try to take the opportunity to preach on it when it comes up. I like it because it is scary, unpredictable, very challenging and gives us a glimpse of God that is so much bigger than we usually imagine him to be. Revelation also shows us that things aren’t always going to be as there are. Change is a comin’!

The American evangelist and writer, Beth Moore wrote this about Revelations 4: ‘In reading Revelation’s description of the throne room of God, please keep in mind that John related the completely unfamiliar through the familiar. Imagine, for example, escorting an Indian who had never ventures farther than the most primitive part of the Amazon through a tour of that state-of-the-art technology of NASA. When he returned to his fellow tribesmen, how would he describe jets or rockets? He’d probably have to begin his illustration by using birds as an example and try to stretch their imagination from there. Likewise, throughout much of Revelation, John employed known concepts to express images beyond our understanding. The throne of God is simply beyond anything we can imagine.’

Revelation 4 takes places in the throne room of God; John is ushered into this room and sees not only the throne but one seated on it. This would have been a dramatic yet glorious sight! It also takes some imagination to get this image – again John is using the familiar to describe the unfamiliar.

The one seated on the throne – who is it? God! What’s the picture that goes through your mind? We aren’t given any idea of the form but only of colour. Jasper can be found in shades of red, yellow, brown, green. Carnelian is red-brown in colour. The one is also surrounded by a rainbow – every colour. The God that John sees is not a God that is black and white but one of colour.

There are some things that are of course black and white about God and his teaching. God though in himself is not so black and white but one of colour, creativity and expanse. This is the one that we worship – the one seated on the throne. Who’s the one on the throne then? Well – it’s not us, nor the PCC, the Bishop, the Archbishop and nor Darcy. It is God. Never lose sight of that.

I was once asked by a rather cynical friend: ‘why did I go to church as I didn’t seem like the type?’ I was completely lost for an answer! To my rescue came another church-going friend who happened to be present. Her answer, one of the most brilliant I have ever heard and was quickly adopted as my own was: ‘I go to church to be challenged in my relationship with God.’

The primary reason for coming here week in/week out should be so that you can be challenged in your relationship with God. There are many good and useful reasons to come to church – service, fellowship, socialisation, the list goes on. We can be challenged in the worship of God, the sermon (I hope!), the prayers, in meeting God in the Eucharist, in the commission to go out and make disciples. When we lose sight of our relationship with God and if that is not primarily why we are here then church becomes a social agency, a club with inconvenient meetings times and at worst an inward facing self-serving clique.

Secondly, faith, Christianity and worship takes some imagination, some creativity. It should be a relief to know that these are not prohibited by God or even the Church of England although they can be scarce commodities sometimes. The Bible is full of stories that require some imagination to be fully understood! Don’t be afraid of trying new things or hearing new ideas.

I would be looking for a parish that has some enthusiasm for new things, reaching new people, taking some risks in hopes that the Good News of Jesus will reach the people who need to hear it. Gone are the days of opening the doors and waiting for people to come in.

Thirdly, casting our crowns before the throne. There is always a danger in the face of change to romanticize the past when the future looks uncertain. We long for the old and dress it up, better than it actually was; ‘Oh, for the good old days’ we sigh and become selective in our memories. This goes both ways.

We must cast the crowns we’ve made for ourselves before the throne and trust that what God has planned is actually better than what we could ever ask or imagine.

Underneath all of this we have the one who gets into the boat with us. I love this story of Jesus. Luke 8 is full of the activity of Jesus’ ministry – no wonder he fell asleep in the boat! Jesus had been going through cities and villages proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God, curing people, laid it all out in the parable of the sower and told people to bear fruit with patient endurance, Jesus had some family issues when his mother and brothers showed up. No wonder he needed a nap!

And one day he got into a boat with his disciples and had a snooze. How utterly human. Even what happened next was not out of the ordinary – the Sea of Galilee is known for its quick change in tide – it can be as smooth as glass one moment and then choppy and windy the next. Jesus is also with fisherman who knew that water, had lived and breathed it their whole lives. They are scared! That storm must have been beyond what they were used to.

Beyond what they were used to. We like what we like because we like it! Even if we don’t like it, the pain of change can often seem a better option than the benefits that change can bring. As human beings tend to like security and the familiar, so we get use to things whether they are beneficial or not. Now I am not saying that everything has to change right now but over time. This comes back to what I said about creativity and worship.

I wonder what the disciples in the boat would have done if Jesus wasn’t with them? Rode out the storm I suppose. How much better though to have the one seated in the boat to rebuke the wind and the waging waves in an instant. There was a calm.

Whatever happens over the next few weeks, months and years here – when times of wind and wave sweep down and in times of calm, Jesus is on your side, he’s in the boat. Where is your faith? This is the question Jesus asks the probably sea-sick, pale faced disciples and is not a bad one for us today.

Where is your faith when change comes, when what your used to isn’t what your used to anymore?

Lastly, I want people, my congregation to know Jesus. To know the one who commands the winds and the water that they obey him. Again, takes some creativity and imagination to read the Gospels and understand at a deeper level what he was doing and what that means for us.

I want them to know the one who for us and for our salvation came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and was made man. Who for our sake was crucified under Pontius Pilate, suffered death and was buried. Who on the third day rose again in accordance with the Scriptures and ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. In that glorious throne room.

He is coming again in glory to judge the living and the dead and his kingdom will have no end.

He is in the boat with us on the journey of each our individual lives but also our communal life as a parish and congregation. Let’s see where he is taking us!

Amen

Christ the King Sunday: New Year’s Eve of the Church Year

Image result for william nlak e

25/11/18
Christ the King

Daniel 7:9-10,13-14
Revelation 1:4-8
John 18:33-37

God the Father,
help us to hear the call of Christ the King
and to follow in his service,
whose kingdom has no end;
for he reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, one glory.
Amen.

Today is the final Sunday of the church year – this is New Year’s Eve! On this last Sunday before Advent – also known as Christ the King Sunday – we take the opportunity to look at Jesus as King.

This Sunday leads us into the season of Advent – that season of expectation and preparation as we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus.
Christ the King is a recent addition to the church calendar – and a Roman Catholic one at that!

Pope Pius XI instituted it in 1925 – which is like 5 minutes ago in church time. He did this in response to two issues he was facing. Firstly, the growing secularism after World War 1. The Church was facing a huge crisis of faith and many people left the Church (both Catholic & Protestant) in Europe in the wake of the war. The men had left for war and they didn’t come back; and the women left the church and God.

Secondly, Pope Pius was also dealing with issues in the Catholic church about what authority the Pope had in the civil matters in Rome in the 1920’s. This context led him to establish Christ the King Sunday as a reminder of Jesus’ power and authority above all else. Pope Pius wrote:

‘If to Christ Jesus our Lord is given all power in heaven and on earth; if all men, purchased by his precious blood, are by a new right subjected to His dominion; if this power embraces all men, [paraphrasing now] He must reign in our minds, He must reign in our wills, He must reign in our hearts, He must reign in our bodies and in our members as instruments of justice unto God.’

This Sunday was instituted as a reminder about who is really in charge. There are two dimensions to Christ the King Sunday – the first is pointing to the end of time when the kingdom of Jesus will be established in all its fullness to the ends of the earth.

The Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Sweden really embraced the final judgement dimension of today as they use to referred to it as the Sunday of Doom. Those cheerful Swedes have since amended their focus to the Return of Christ. Good choice I think – even if only from a PR perspective.

The second dimension of Christ the King Sunday leads us into the season of Advent – the season of expectation and preparation as we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus.

I tend to see Christ the King Sunday as New Year’s Eve on the church calendar. New Year starts next week with the first Sunday of Advent. Forget January 1st – December 2nd is where it is at!

Looking back on the year that has just past – I know many people for whom 2018 has been a fair mix of peaks and valleys; much better than 2017. For others it has been personally challenging and difficult to downright horrendous. They are counting the days until it passes. And others for whom it has been full of blessing and delight.

Wherever you find yourself this morning – God bless you! Know that you are loved. It is good to remind ourselves that Jesus is King above all kings; whatever season we are in. We live in the in-between time – the first Advent and the second, the now and the not yet. The new born King has come and yet we wait for His return as the grown-up King.

Christ the King Sunday reminds us that we live in the in-between. Most of us – I would bet – prefer certainty and security to uncertainty and chaos. We like to know where our next meal is coming from, when the next train arrives, that there is money in the bank.

We might even prefer more certainty of Jesus or hold a view of Him that is containable, manageable and fits with our view of the world. If you happened to notice the readings this morning but they come from some of the more difficult bits of the Bible.

The Lectionary for this morning has readings from both Daniel and Revelation which present us with dreams and visions of some very scary things! Luke has Jesus in front of Pilate who is about to condemn him to death and he doesn’t seem to be putting up too much of a defence for himself or acting very king-like.

Revelation is the start of John’s visions while he was an old man exiled on the Greek island of Patmos. John knew Jesus, he was the beloved disciple, he had spent 3 years with him, following him around, listening and learning from him. John was there when Jesus was crucified – a young man probably still a teenager!

Now he is an old man, having lived a life telling people the Good News that he heard and saw when he was with Jesus. In this final event of his life, John is given the most extraordinary visions of what happens when Christ comes again. It is dramatic, it is frightening and quite frankly hard to understand.

John starts with God and Jesus – John knows the grace and peace he extends to others, he knows the faithful witness of Jesus, John knows the love and freedom that comes from the forgiveness of sins. He knows what Jesus did while he was on earth – he was there!

And John sees Jesus coming again – coming with the clouds and every eye will see him. In the first coming, as a baby in the manger, it might seem easy to overlook – but there will be no mistaking this King’s return.

The painting by William Blake ‘The Ancient of Days’ is his interpretation Daniel and Revelations ‘Ancient One’ – this Jesus who will come on clouds descending.

My Advent book for this year is Jane William’s ‘The Art of Advent’ – it is beautiful! She describes Blake as helping us to see what is meant by this phrase ‘Ancient of Days’. This is no old man, but a timeless one, both aged and yet full of vitality.

God is older than time, more ancient that any human thought or life. God is measuring the out the shape of the world in this picture but also measuring to see if the world is measuring up in other ways – to its full potential. This powerful figure is pouring out life into the chaotic darkness around.

John’s Gospel presents us with another vision of Christ the King – maybe one that we are no more comfortable with but maybe more familiar. John gives us a picture of the human Jesus stood before Pilate – tired, beaten, exhausted. Again, not a great picture of a King!

Pilate has been put into a difficult position – he is puzzled over the charges brought against Jesus but has to decide whether Jesus should be sentenced to death or not. As Pilate is trying to work this out he asks Jesus point-blank ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ Jesus gives – what was probably a woolly answer ‘My kingdom is not from this world’. It is a bit of a crazy answer!

Pilate takes this as meaning that Jesus admits to being a king. Pilate is probably not sure about what kind of king Jesus is meant to be. He likely doesn’t care – his question is rather more about whether Jesus is challenging his power or not. Is this Jesus supposed to be a king in a military-style to come in and wipe out the enemies (those being the Romans) of the Jewish people? We know the rest of the story – this King that goes on to be crucified. Again, this is not a great or comfortable view of a King!

Both the readings this morning give us two different perspectives on Jesus and his kingship. I wonder if there is one you relate to more deeply than the other? We have the huge vision of John and maybe have a representation in William Blake’s ‘Ancient of Days’. We also have John’s telling of Jesus’ presentation to Pilate. A very human Jesus, on his way to his death. And today we are asked to look ahead to the remembrance of Jesus coming as the baby in the manger.

I think it is really important to our faith to understand how we see Jesus – where do we place him. Is he the tiny baby that comes out only at Christmas for some warm and fuzzy memories? Is the cosmic Jesus a little too different, too distant? What about Jesus the man, the human ‘king’ standing before Pilate.

Christ the King Sunday gives us the opportunity to adjust our eyesight so that we can see Jesus in all his fullness. If we have diminished Him in any way – we can ask for Him to expand into our lives, our relationships and our understanding of who is He. We need Him! We need Him in this church badly!

We share in his Kingship in the practical matters of feeding the hungry and clothing the poor, being present with those in need. We also share in the hope of the King that is to come in all his fullness and glory – both the baby at in the manger and the Son of Man who will return. The Son of Man who will descend of the clouds; who loves us and freed us from our sins and made us to a be a kingdom.

Until then we have to wait and watch. Take the time to be prepared. As we stand on the cusp on another church year – which promises to be eventful – let’s look again at Christ our King.

Amen

All Saints Sunday – Why We Need to Remember

This is my Sermon for All Saints Sunday and was preached this morning at St Peter’s Lutheran Church in Cochrane. My home church in my home town! This was a great privilege but also a bit of a risk with not knowing many of the new people (lovely to see this amazing church growing). There are also a number of people with cancer diagnosis and other health issues as well as some newly bereaved people. Could only pray that it would land in the right place!

St Peter’s Lutheran – All Saints                                                                         November 5, 2017 

Revelation 7:2-17                                                                                                 1 John 3:1-3                                                                                                         Matthew 5:1-12

God of holiness, your glory is proclaimed in every age: as we rejoice in the faith of your saints, inspire us to follow their example with boldness and joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Today we are celebrating the festival of All Saints; and I am delighted that Pastor Bart invited me to deliver the sermon this morning. I was supposed to give the All Saints’ sermon at my church in England this evening. The Church of England – by my observation makes a bigger event of All Saints than the Lutherans do.

My church is holding a special service tonight where we invite church members and the friends and families of the people whose funerals we have officiated in the last 2-3 years to come to church. There is special music, readings, a sermon, we leave time for silent reflection, the names of those who have died are read, prayers of thanksgiving are offered and candles are lit.

This might seem weird or unnatural – or even un-Lutheran! Pastor Bart & Pastor Paul have been educating us these last few weeks about the Reformation and Luther’s issues with the Catholic church of his day. Praying to the Saints is definitely out! However, the festival of All Saints was retained by Luther after the Reformation and assumed the role of general commemoration to the dead in the Lutheran church. This has been extended to include living saints as well.

I want to be clear from the outset – we are not praying to the dead. To pray to the dead goes along the lines of ‘Dear Aunt Betty – thank you for this snowy day. Please do x, y or z. Could you ask Jesus to do… Amen.

Praying for the dead – again – might be troublesome for some. I like how Methodist theology puts it ‘All Saints Day resolves around giving God solemn thanks for the lives and deaths of his saints, including those who are famous or obscure.’

A Saint is a person of great holiness, or likeness or closeness to God who remains this way through life and into death. The lives of the Saints are set to be examples to the rest of us on the graciousness of God and what virtuous living can look like. Not all saints are famous. Most are everyday people.

My attempt this morning is to talk about why it is important to mark All Saints Day.

Firstly – The dead sit at the dinner table long after their gone.

All Saints stems from a belief that there is a powerful spiritual bond between those in heaven (the Church triumphant) and the living (the Church militant).

We don’t tend to forget people once they have died – whether we loved or liked them – or not. The impact of our relationship with them, their life, the love, the moments that were shared do not cease to be important once they have bodily departed. This is true regardless if the relationship was positive or negative.

Does God shut his ears to prayers for them? If I am concerned about the soul of a person who has died – will God not hear that prayer? He knows far more than I do about them and their situation. Can I not seek his peace and reassurance? We have biblical evidence that indicates God cares about the dead. He created them, he loves them more than we do.

1 Thessalonians tells us that the dead in Christ will rise first and we will all meet together. The Apostles’ Creed – which we will say in a few minutes – ‘he will come again to judge the living and the dead.’

The Revelation reading tells us of the great gathering. This is a tricky chapter for some – the numbers of who is in or out can be a real hang-up. A total of 144,000 is for the 12 tribes of Israel (the Jewish people). This doesn’t have anything to do with us non-Jewish people. It makes the point that a faithful remnant of Israel will be saved; the number 144,000 should be regarded as symbolic.

Alongside the faithful remnant is the countless multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language – these are the Christians – whose sins have been purged by the saving death of Christ. This countless multitude will be taken care of – no more hunger, thirst, scorching heat – the Lamb (that being Jesus) will be their shepherd who guides them to the springs of the water of life, tears will be wiped away. Jesus will do for them in death what he did for them and does for us in life now.

Saints are with us and around us. We don’t forget the ones who have died, neither does God.

Secondly – we have limited experience of death in contemporary society.

It has been said that a 100 years ago people talked about death and avoided talking about sex. But today we talk way more about sex than death.

There are many reasons why we don’t talk about death. In the 20th & 21st centuries the advancement of medicine and hospitals took sickness and death out of the home. People now live much longer than they use to which means that some people don’t experience the death of a loved one until much later in life. Infant mortality and childhood deaths in the western world are lower too.

I would also argue that the rise of the professionalized funeral industry has taken death out of the church and community. Gone are the days of dying at home where the minister was more likely to be called than a doctor, being laid out in the parlour, taken to the church for a funeral and then buried in the cemetery. Usually in a very short period of time.

Today death is handled by paid professional (usually very nice) strangers (for the most part) to take us from the institution where death occurred to the funeral home for preparation. It is clean, no muss, no fuss. The advent of embalming and refrigeration has meant that body disposal isn’t as urgent as it once was.

Death still comes to us all but largely out of sight. As a result, we have lost some of the vocabulary to talk or write about death. Think of the language we use – we don’t even like to say that someone has died. They passed away. Hmmm– no I think they stopped. You pass an exam or a driving test. You prove your competency and carry on at a higher level.

Or how about ‘they slipped away’ – you slip out of a meeting or maybe out of this sermon – in a way that does not interrupt or interfere.

But the nature of death is just that – it interferes, it upsets, it destroys. Death is not subtle or considerate! Our person may have been unconscious or unaware when they died. But we weren’t. Many of the deaths I’ve experienced have struck like lightening. Even the ones that ‘were expected’ still have an element of shock to them.

Consider to how we write about death – a person ‘succumbed to…’ or ‘lost the battle’. This phrasing implies that maybe if they had just put a bit more effort in they wouldn’t have died. Battle is the language of war – battles are lost because of bad strategy, lack of preparedness, an enemy that overpowers. If someone ‘loses their battle to cancer’ – was it down to bad planning? What do we do with those who are diagnosed late and never get a chance to fight? Or those who choose not to?

Earlier this year I had the opportunity to attend the National Funeral Directors Exhibition for England as part of a conference I attended. What a fascinating event that was! It had everything you would expect – hearses and body removal vans with all the latest in comfort & technology, urns and caskets, headstones, embalming fluids, make-up, flowers and lots of digital options too – all on show.

What surprised me most was the company who – for a fee (of course) – would text your family and friends to notify them of your death! Yup – you provided the phone numbers, then your next of kin would contact them when you died and then they sent the mass group text! This company would also text the obituary and details of your service. And they would text reminders!

Really?! Have we become so removed from death that our thumbs now do the talking for us? What a shocking thought that I could become so busy that a death of someone I loved would require text reminders!

Have we lost that much vocabulary?

Jesus talked about death a lot. He spoke openly about his own death and what was to come for the disciples. John 14 – ‘In my Father’s House there are many dwelling-places’. God’s House has places prepared for us – this is clearly a God who loves his people! He was waiting for them. For us. We are not to be afraid.

Jesus also responds to the death. Jesus wept at the mouth of Lazarus’ tomb. Jesus was not afraid to confront death. In Jewish culture touching a dead body made one ritually unclean and it was quite a process to made clean again. But time and again we see Jesus cut through the rules to reach out to people.

Jesus cares for the dying, the dead and their families – Lazarus, the Widow of Nain, the daughter of Jairus. Jesus was firmly in control in these situations – he was the only one that did.

As we have been distanced from death and have lost some of the vocabulary and experience – we have also lost control (if we ever really had any) over death. Western culture would like to tell us we can control our lives and do what we like, when we want to. All we have to do is figure out how to get what we want. Death is the most uncomfortable reminder that we have so little control over what happens.

Back to the Funeral Exhibition – I reflected after that a lot of the products and services went some way to trying to restore some form of control – but not to the dead – this control is for the living. The distance that death brings could be reduced through the distraction of arranging the personalization of stuff.

Caskets could be personalised – Harley-Davidson logos, majestic mountain scapes, clouds, kittens, The Last Supper, wood, stainless steel, willow baskets – whatever you want! For a few thousand dollars you can be buried or burned in a customized box – made just for you.

Urns came in every shape and size to ‘reflect ones’ personality and design taste. I particularly liked the 6 or 8 pack mini urns that could be purchased! No kidding – handy if you hadn’t quite decided or told anyone where you would like you final resting place to be. Or maybe you have a family prone to fighting – now everyone can have a piece!

What is a Christian response to this? The Beatitudes are a good place to start as we are reminded that the world is not always going to be as it is. They speak of the past, the present and the future all at once.

The Beatitudes are the opening lines of Jesus’ The Sermon on the Mount – probably the most famous words that Jesus ever spoke. Jesus is setting out the main themes of his Good News.

Jesus is not simply telling people to behave properly and then all will be right with the world. This isn’t about trying harder to be better. Neither is Jesus suggesting the Beatitudes are some kind of timeless truths – because they are not. Mourners often go uncomforted, the meek don’t inherit the earth, and those who long for justice don’t often see it in their lifetimes.

In our world, most people think that wonderful news consists of success, wealth, long life and victory in battle. Jesus is offering wonderful news for the humble, poor in spirit and the peacemakers.

The world the Jesus is offering is upside down! Jesus is saying that with his work it’s starting to come true. Those who mourn will be comforted, the meek will inherit and the persecuted will get the kingdom.

So when do these promises come true? The great Christian temptation is to say in heaven, after death. And it can seem like that with the references to the ‘kingdom of heaven.’

Heaven is God’s space – where full reality exists, close by our ordinary ‘earthly’ reality and interlocking with it. It is not a place of fat babies playing harps on clouds. One-day heaven and earth will be unified forever and the true state of affairs, which are at present out of sight, will be unveiled. The life of heaven, the life of the realm where God is already king – is to become the life of the world. And those who follow Jesus are to begin to live by this rule here and now.

It may seem upside down, but we are called to believe, with great daring and imagination, that it is in fact the right way up.

Thirdly – All Saints is ultimately a celebration of Christ’s victory over death.

I used the words festival and celebration at the beginning – the festival of All Saints. We do well to remember that the Christian faith is built on the death and resurrection of Jesus. Let’s not forget that death came first – Good Friday before Easter Sunday. For those who die in Christ their physical death is not the end of the story. This is Good News!

I also appreciate that this can be cold comfort to those who live with grief. Christian or not. Grief can overwhelm and when allowed to can rob life from the living. The only solace I can offer is that those who mourn will be comforted. Jesus is the great comforter and friend to those who mourn. Go to Him with it. People, friends, family can be helpful but they can’t fix it.

One of my favourite saints is John. He lived a life and death closer to Jesus than anyone. John stood at the foot of the cross and watched Jesus die; his brother James and most of his closest friends were crucified. He was an old man when he wrote Revelation and the letters of John.

John – I believe – has distilled down a lifetime of experience to ‘See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.’ As he is coming to the end of his life, John writes about the love of God – because that is all there is at the end of the day. It is the only thing that will sustain us. The love of God is the only thing that stands up to the heart-breaking, interrupting, destruction of death.

God’s love will carry through the experience of death and give us our vocabulary back. It is through God’s love that we are even able to love and be loved. He first loved us!

I would encourage you this morning and in the coming days or weeks to remember and give thanks for the Saints in your life – both the living and the dead. They are around. Have a conversation about them. See what comes up – compare memories. They still sit at the dinner table!  If it’s hard or brings up any feelings of grief or love or guilt or joy – pray about them. Ask God for his peace and input. He is in this with you. He loves and cares for all his Saints. That means you to.

Amen.