Each week Pastor Sarah offers a devotional reflection to connect with the South Shore UMC Family. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!
This Sunday the South Shore UMC Community begins a three-week series on evangelism using Catch - a resource developed by Church of the Resurrection, a United Methodist Congregation in Kansas City. Join us as we explore Scriptures, skills, and strategies needful and necessary for this church to become more the community ministry hub that God desires. Our services gather safely in-person and via our broadcast channel for our 8:30am Traditional Worship and 11:00am Contemporary Worship. You are welcome to be a vital part of what God is doing in and through South Shore UMC!
Sunday’s Scripture ~ Mark 11:15-19.
Devotional Scripture ~ Matthew 5:4.
One of the ways the Church is ‘at its best’ is when we care for people. This can be a hug – when appropriate and safe to do! – a handshake – a high five. This can be a phone call – a card – or my favorite – a casserole. When we are about the business and responsibility of caring, we testify to this Scriptural truth found in I John 4:19 – we love because God first loved us.
This past Sunday – and really this past week – I have been the recipient of such love from the Church following my grandfather’s going on to glory. A family shared dinner with us. Folks sent emails and text messages. Someone even made a special trip to the store to find my fluoride rinse!
A small group stopped me after worship on Sunday and asked me how I was doing. I shared that I was okay, that I was preparing to officiate my Gramps’ memorial service this coming Friday. Three in the group compassionately winced, “that must be so hard.” My eyes focused on the fourth in their number. I chuckled softly and said, “yes and no…because I have a weird relationship with death.”
The fourth member of the group knew exactly what I meant.
Like many, when I learn of the passing of someone cherished in my life, I become emotional. I cry. I ache. I wonder. I pray. And then, perhaps too quickly for some, I move into the peace of acceptance.
The emotions endure, they persist at a high level.
They are directed…towards faith, hope, and love…rather than fear, hurt, and loss.
Jesus says in the Beatitudes – in this series of blessings that frame for us what life shall be like – and is like – for residents in the Kingdom of God – “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Mt 5:4). I believe there is theological strength felt and significance attributed whenever we read shall in Scripture – it alerts for me that this action reveals the divine imperative – it shall be done because this is nothing less than God’s plan. The verb will usually connotes this action or promise will occur in God’s preferred future; shall, on the other hand, has a greater immediacy. It bears a greater sense of urgency.
Mourners shall be comforted – I am, have been, and shall be comforted. And because of this…I have a weird relationship with death. Through faith, hope, and love I lean into the promise and gift of resurrection. I remember the loved one – I remember my Gramps – and I celebrate that he is with Jesus and with my Nonnie. I celebrate that he is free from heart disease and Parkinson’s. I celebrate that he is whole and happy. I celebrate that he is part of the great cloud of witnesses, continuing in his/their service to our Lord by extending wisdom, support, accountability, and joy from that side of eternity into this one.
Death occurs. The loss is real.
Resurrection happens. And the new life it ushers in is eternal.
That new life awaits the faithful. It shall be done. Thanks be to God.
Reflection: Write about a time when you experienced God’s comfort while you were mourning. How did – or shall – that experience shape your practices of care for others during their season(s) of mourning?
Prayer: “Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me. Spirit of the living God, Fall afresh on me.”* Amen.
*“Spirit of the Living God,” The United Methodist Hymnal 393.
**Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal