A note from Pastor:
Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is the one day of the year on the church calendar, when we take time to consider the fact that God made us from dust and to dust we will one day return.
There is nothing like the death of a parent to cause one’s thoughts to go toward one’s own mortality (my mother died on February 13th). Though it may seem a morbid topic to consider it is actually an extremely vital and life-giving topic. To consider one’s own mortality is to consider what you want to do with each moment of life. How will you make the most of each moment? What might God be calling you to be and to do?
And, of course, one must come to terms with who God is, or whether God is at all before that question can be answered.
The first time I remember considering any of these questions was when I was eleven years old, when we received a phone call that my Grandpa had died that morning. Grandpa was only sixty-eight years old and I had just stayed overnight with him and my aunt (who lived with him also), two days before his death. It was a terrible shock to learn of his death. He had not been ill, and had even gone to work at the York News Times that morning.
Only six years later, when we were seniors in high school, a classmate died. There were only fifteen in our class and we were together from kindergarten through high school, more like siblings than mere classmates. So, when Scott died, the fact of my own mortality became even more real. He was only 17 years old, but he left his mark. I’ll never forget something he said during a conversation in literature class one day when we were discussing life and death. He posed the rhetorical question, “What if heaven is just another dimension of life that we have not discovered? Not somewhere way out there, but right here?
Three years after Scott’s death, one year after I married into the family, my brother-in-law, Bill, was killed in an accident while he was at work.
So, you might guess that I have considered mortality a bit. Life is all too short. Shorter for some than for others, but always too short…
But then, perhaps it is not short at all….if Scott was right, and I’d like to believe he was.
From my grown up faith perspective I have come to a belief that undergirds his rhetorical question. We say that our deceased loved ones now live in the very presence and essence of God. And if that is so, and if what we claim to be true, that God is with us and in us and always present, then isn’t it also true that our loved ones are right here in some dimension that we actually HAVE discovered? the dimension we call love.
1 John 4:8 says that God IS love. If God IS love, and our loved ones who have died in the Lord are with God, then they are with us in the love we share with one another.
For me, what that means is that I want to live into LOVE in every way that I can. It is not always an easy calling. But it is the calling into which I want to live. Because when I learn to love, even those who are not always easily loved, I am learning to be nearer to my Grandpa, to my classmate/friend Scott, to my brother-in-love Bill, and now also to my beloved Mother (and many others too numerous to name in this space).
So, during this Lent, I am going to focus on living into LOVE in new and challenging ways. I hope you will join me in this Lenten discipline.