In the midst of suffering and pain, God walks with us; Christ knows what it is to suffer. We have never been alone. We are not alone today. We will not be alone tomorrow.
November 7, 2021
Wipe Away Every Tear
Isaiah 25: 6-9
Pastor Heather McColl
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wines, of rich food filled with marrow, of well-aged wines strained clear. And he will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples the sheet that is spread over all nations; he will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, so that he might save us. This is the Lord for whom we have waited; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.
Wipe Away Every Tear Isaiah 25: 6-9
On this All Saints Sunday, we gather to remember… to remember those whom we have lost this year, to remember the examples of faith shared with us by our ancestors, to remember the stories of hope which strengthen us as people of faith. On this All Saints Sunday, we gather to celebrate…to celebrate the promise given to us by our God who loves us more than we will ever know, to celebrate the vision of God’s Kingdom fully realized here on Earth, to celebrate the possibilities of new life, grounded in the knowledge that love and light will always have the last word.
As we gather to remember and celebrate, I invite us to hear these words:
“in the midst of suffering and pain, God walks with us; Christ knows what it is to suffer. We have never been alone. We are not alone today. We will not be alone tomorrow. ”
These words were offered by a colleague on the occasion of the closing of the congregation which she served. She offered these words as part of a service of lament stating that “In the Christian tradition, we hold space for lament. Lament is naming our grief, not to tie it up with a pretty bow, but because living as a human on earth means that we suffer, that we experience loss, that we experience death. This is so important to our tradition that we have the model of an entire book of the Bible – called, Lamentations.” (Sara Nave Fisher)
Although the occasion is different, as I read these words offered by my colleague, they resonated with me. They resonated to where I am on my spiritual journey. And if I had to guess, for many of us, they also resonate with many of you as well for a variety of reasons.
It has been a long year. For the last twenty or so months, we have been people on edge, constantly in this “state of vigilance which living through a pandemic demands. The mounting tensions in our world, the endless array of issues which cause strife, and the enormous uncertainties about when and if and how to return to some kind of routine” have all taken a toll on us physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and communally, (Elizabeth Edwards).
As a community of faith, we have not taken the opportunity to grieve. We have not taken the opportunity to process our grief. We have not named what we have lost because it was all so much and we don’t know when it will all end.
So today, I want to offer us space to do just that….to hold space to name our grief and to mourn. To hold space to lament. To hold space to hear once more the promise Isaiah shared with his people when they too wondered where God was in the midst of their sorrow.
This naming will not immediately make everything better. Nor will this naming reclaim everything which we lost this past year.
What this naming is…is a release. It is an opportunity for us to come before God and say we are hurting, to say we are angry, to say we feel helpless. This naming is space for us to say that although we may continue to be surrounded by uncertainties, it will not have power over us. It will not stop us from being, from becoming the people of love and hope that God created and calls us to be.
This naming of our grief , this naming of what we have endured these past twenty months is a way to remind ourselves that this is not the end of the story. This naming is an invitation for a day of new beginnings to shine upon us, not because we are ignoring the hurt, the hate, the brokenness which fills our world, but because ultimately we know that God is at work in world bringing about healing and wholeness for all of God’s people.
So to begin, I invite everyone to get comfortable, to close your eyes, to breathe in the peace of Christ and breathe out all which weighs heavy upon our hearts. I invite everyone to please join me in prayer: (Service of Lament by Sara Nave Fisher)
“Loving God, the loss of life over these last twenty or so months has been enormous. We mourn the over 700,000 people who have died in the US, and more than five million who have died worldwide, due to COVID. We mourn those who have died from other causes but for whom we have not been able to grieve and hold funerals. Even though the loss of life happened months ago, for so many of us, our sorrow lingers. O Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.” (from Service of Lament by Sara Nave Fisher)
See also: Theology Tuesday for Sunday, November 7, 2021 – Wipe Away Every Tear Isaiah 25: 6-9.