On Friday the 31st of July, I presided at the committal and burial of a long-time Prince of Peace member. It was a beautiful and moving service, with family members sharing stories of gratitude for how their loved one touched so many lives, committed to hospitality and welcome, and gave time and energy to many faith and church communities throughout life in Saratoga. The member was laid to rest in Madronia cemetery near the office building under a magnificent oak tree. It is a beautiful spot, made holy by God and the love shared for the people buried there. You are invited to take a walk when it is convenient for you and say your goodbye’s. The family has hopes for a full Celebration of Life service when it is safe and legal to do so.
This is the second funeral that I have been part of since COVID19 and shelter in place began, the other was for a member’s friend. I know I do not have to tell you all of the ways that the grief of losing a loved one in these times when some of our most treasured rituals and basic human needs of touch, smiles, handshakes and even presence have been deemed unsafe (and in some places illegal). While I certainly respect the law and follow the rules, I think the isolation of these times and lack of ritual can sharpen and prolong our grief. As I have pondered this reality and, like many of you, dealt with the loss of loved ones, I have noticed that the other socially distanced ways that we care for one another in our grief have deeper meaning. Text messages, cards in the mail, showing up to wave through the window, masking up and knocking on doors, and even talking to one another on video call. It is certainly not the same, and when COVID clears we will have lots of collective grief to share. But also, like the disciples who were in the upper room, distraught after Jesus’ death, we too will get a glimpse of the Risen Christ. It may not be as we expected, and some of us may doubt it is Jesus. But the undeniable peace of Jesus that passes all understanding will come to us. It might be masked for now, but it will come. God always shows up.
Peace be with all people who grieve in these lonely times. As always, Pastor Sara and Nate are available if anyone would like to talk, pray, and lament together.