Friday, November 30, 2018
As I write this reflection, eleven people in a Pittsburgh synagogue are dead, gunned down by an anti-Semitic man with an assault rifle. On Wednesday, a white man shot and killed two black people at a Kroger supermarket in Jeffersontown, Kentucky. Earlier, he had tried to enter a predominantly black church minutes before the fatal shooting.
Over the past few days, at least a dozen prominent American Democrats, including two former presidents, have been the targets of assassination attempts. Even a cursory glance at international news headlines yields stories just as horrific: dozens dead in Eastern Syria; millions starving in Yemen; widespread killings, kidnappings, and communal violence in central Nigeria. In the midst of life, we are in death.
This week, Christians around the world celebrate All Souls and All Saints. In a world that fears, cheapens, and desecrates death, the Church invites God’s people to linger at the grave in grief, remembrance, gratitude, and hope. In a world that mistreats and abuses countless men, women, and children, the Church affirms the value of every single soul, every single life. In a world that privileges the individual, the Church honors the deep interconnectedness of God’s family across time, culture, history, and eternity. Yes, it’s true: in the midst of life, we are in death. But All Souls and All Saints remind us of a deeper truth: in the midst of death, we are promised life.
What breaks our hearts? What splits us open in sorrow? What enrages us? Can we mobilize into those very spaces? Can we work for transformation in our places of devastation? Can our sorrow lead us to justice?
This week, as we gather to honor All Souls and All Saints, as we take time to remember, to mourn, and to celebrate those who have gone on before us, I hope that our faith can be our guide. I hope honest expressions of sorrow will give us the permission, the company, and the impetus we need, not only to do the work of grief and healing, but to move with powerful compassion into a world that sorely needs our empathy and our love. Yes, we are in death, but we serve a God who calls us to life. Our journey is not to the grave, but through it. The God who weeps is also the God who resurrects.
So we mourn in hope.
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