It’s been quite a week! I was officially installed as the pastor a week ago Sunday and in the following week, we lost two faithful, strong women in our church family. I’m reminded of the Gospel of Mark. Mark, of the four writers, is incredibly brief. Everything happens “immediately” after something else. The effect is a sort of rollercoaster where major events are piling up and happening all at the same time. Jesus is baptized and then immediately thrown out into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Peter is praised one minute before Jesus calls him Satan. Ups and downs; strikes and gutters.
That’s life, isn’t it? It would be one thing if it came one event at a time. If you could just focus on work, or on the family, or on deacon families, or on the pumpkins, or… you get the idea. But life isn’t like that. Life is jumbled up, one thing on top of another. And so we had a celebration on Sunday, and two funerals on Thursday and Saturday. We live and we try to live through the jumble.
But there’s actually a lesson in the two disparities: installation and memorial. The lesson is that there are those to help us remember. Part of what we practice at funeral services and visitation is to cast the right memory. Death brings up all sorts of emotions, but what good friends and a great church can do is to remind the family of who this person was to them and what they will remember. Most times, you’re not telling the family anything new. They know those stories. But calling them up reminds the grieving parties exactly who their beloved is and giving them hope for what is to come.
In the same way, the installation service doesn’t really do anything magical. I hope I was still your pastor before October 9! But it was a chance to be reminded of what we’re doing together and what this is all about. Naomi helped me to remember, Felix helped me to remember, Larry helped me to remember. And I hope they triggered your memories, too. I hope we remember exactly what the church means to us and hope for her glorious future.