So, this past week was kind of crazy, especially at St. Andrew: a major snowstorm came through the area Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, dumping a good 6-10 inches of snow all over Hampton Roads.
And so, on Tuesday, I was working hard to plan out two funerals that week, and also try to get to the Synod’s High School retreat with our two high school youth. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make the latter happen; because snow in this region shuts things down….for like 3 days.
But, lots needed to happen….both funerals would be on Friday. So while waiting out the snow, wheels started turning.
- Our parish administrator and I worked out memorial services and bulletins for the families.
- Food and receptions had to be coordinated.
- The Fellowship Hall had to be set up with tables and chairs.
- And a whole lot of plowing of parking lots and shoveling of sidewalks had to get done because they were covered in snow!
I guess looking at the list, these aren’t really remarkable – this is what happens for any memorial service/funeral. And being from Minnesota, plowing and shoveling off sidewalks covered in snow isn’t really that big of a deal – at least in my mind. But as I look back, it was a huge undertaking – two funerals for a small congregation with older folk .
And it happened flawlessly: food was purchased, prepared, and provided. Folks showed up to shovel off the sidewalks. (By the way, snowshovels in Virginia are about as abundant as water in the desert) We found a guy who was able to get the parking lots cleared off at the last minute (the night before). And there were phone calls….people checking in with families, making sure they were ok, seeing if they needed anything. And those memorial services were beautiful tributes to both the lives of the deceased and God’s promises in Christ. Really, they were celebrations of both these things – in their own unique ways.
There’s something interesting about death – it always seems to bring out the best in people. People put aside whatever things are driving them nuts at the moment, they put up with things in other people they usually can’t stand….and they love. They love and care for others, and they love and care for each other.
And having been part of 4 funerals – 2 at Holy Communion and 2 at St. Andrew – I see what is truly good about these people. Now mind you, it doesn’t mean their perfect – they still have their things and issues and challenges to deal with.
Death is something that we all will face, yet it is the hardest thing for us to deal with when it comes into our lives. And I think, in our yearning for community and connection with each other, death brings out the courage to enter into that yearning with others in their time of sorrow.
We bring a shovel. We call the snowplow guy. We bring way too much food. We put up with each other. We show up to mourn with those who mourn, celebrate life, and give thanks for God’s promises.
We care. We love. We love because God in Christ loved us first. And through this, God casts light into our lives.