In the midst of grief, God will bring life
In the midst of grief, God will bring life
During a typical Holy Week, which isn’t what we are experiencing this year, the worship service that often has the lowest attendance is Good Friday — the day that we mark the crucifixion of Jesus. There are plenty of reasons why this is probably the case, but I think one is the fact that grief and death are hard things for us to engage and sit in. We much prefer our churches on Easter morning filled with lots of people, lots of great music, and lots of celebration.
This Holy Week, this Lent, feels a bit like being stuck in Good Friday. We are experiencing grief over the loss of plans, traditions, jobs, community, routine, and even over the death of people we care about. It can be hard for us to understand that the emotions and exhaustion we are feeling is grief. This article was one that I found very helpful from the Harvard Business Review, naming this for us all. Often when we experience grief we work so hard to jump back into “business as usual.” However, the truth is that it is never back to the same. We are changed by loss and grief. Our normal will look different after COVID-19 than the normal before COVID-19. LIfe for the disciples was not the same after Jesus’ resurrection as what was “normal” before Good Friday.
During this strange Holy Week I keep wondering how it might help me to navigate this unsettling moment we are all experiencing. One of the things that I appreciate more this year is the fact that we as a church have a moment where we are invited into a place that acknowledges grief, loss, and fear — to hear the story year after year of Jesus’ death and how those that he was closest to were impacted with fear, confusion, and isolation. There is no emotion, space, experience, that is too much for God. It is highlighted on Good Friday that Jesus is willing to fully enter the place of pain, despair, isolation, so that we might know love, grace, forgiveness, and life. God is willing to enter and be with you in your grief now.
I personally am grieving the fact that Maundy Thursday will not be marked in my “normal” way this year. I and other deaconesses, deacons, students, and President Heckler won’t be kneeling in the Chapel, inviting others to have their feet washed. We won’t gather around the altar to receive the sacrament of Holy Communion. The service typically ends with the stripping of the altar and yet it feels this year like everything has already been stripped away.
This year as I grieve the loss of a traditional Maundy Thursday, I have realized how thankful I am that this service helps us to think about the gifts we need as we move into a Good Friday. “Maundy” means commandment and the day lifts up the new commandment we receive from Jesus to love one another. Jesus demonstrates this love by gathering and connecting with his disciples. He washes their feet.
This year more than ever before the connection of what Jesus chooses to do before the ultimate day of grief is something to pay attention to during this time when we are experiencing so much loss and grief around us. Jesus gathered with those that were closest to him and connected in honest, vulnerable, authentic ways. Jesus lifted up the importance of loving and serving one another. Jesus fed those he loved and promised to show up in the bread and the wine for all God’s people. Jesus went to a garden and prayed.
I am experiencing grief over the loss of a traditional Holy Week. I weep over the fact that I, Pastor Jim, Dr. Kim, chapel staff and countless students won’t be spending four intense days practically living at the Chapel as we move through the moments of Holy Week. Yet in Maundy Thursday, Jesus reminds me that during this time of grief the way through it is to love one another. To be honest about the struggle and loss we are experiencing. To connect with those that are dear to us and maybe even share a virtual meal. To take time to pray.
This Holy Week when the world is filled with uncertainty, fear, loss, and grief, Good Friday seems a bit more tangible. Good Friday reminds us that Jesus is willing to enter those places of fear, uncertainty, loss, and grief so that we might know grace, forgiveness, and love.
There is no doubt that this Holy Week doesn’t feel normal. It isn’t, yet even the loss of traditions can’t keep the truth of the week away. God loves us and abides with us and promises that even in the midst of grief, loss, uncertainty, and fear — God will bring life.
April 8, 2020
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A Point of Privilege
- A season of anticipation
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- Better Together
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Carrying the COVID Cross
- Come and See
- Did Jesus really suffer?
- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Don’t miss this moment
- Exiles with Vision
- Fear not!
- Feeling at Home
- Finding Purpose in the Journey
- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting ahead with Jesus
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- I almost slipped
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In Praise of Skeptical Disciples
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Killing off our future selves
- Lessons in fire building
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Lilies and leaves and whatever else is beautiful
- Living in the Present
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Art of Holy Week
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- This can’t be done alone
- To be known
- You will be in our prayers this summer of 2020
- Ventures of which we cannot see the ending
- We had hoped
- What do you do with your anger?
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When joy and sadness live together
- When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
- When you offer up your broken cup
- Where God will be found
- Where is the good shepherd carrying you?
- Wilderness Journeys
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future