I have thoroughly enjoyed the glorious return of summer this past week, with sunny days and temperatures climbing well into the 70's, but the changing colors of the leaves and the cool nights remind us that it will be a brief return. Summer is turning into fall, with all that season implies, both good and bad. In addition to colorful foliage and pumpkin-flavored everything, fall is also a reminder of the cycle of life, and that all things come to an end.
Death has been weighing heavily on me in recent weeks. I am still mourning the loss of a friend and former co-worker who died at the beginning of the summer, and find myself periodically wanting to talk to her, forgetting that she is gone. And as I watch the health of my beloved dog decline more and more, I know that more death lies not far ahead. It seems that tears are never far from my eyes these days.
And I know that I'm not alone. I know several others in our congregation, and friends in our Presbytery, who have also said good-bye to beloved friends and family members this summer. It has been a hard few months for many. Immanuel hosted two memorial services in August, an unusual occurrence for a congregation that often only has one death per year. Kim and Detta were both strong, memorable women and I'm glad that we were able to help celebrate their lives and support their families in their times of grief. And I hope that we will continue to find ways to honor their memories and the way they touched our community of faith.
As we head into fall, with all its reminders of death, it is a good time to acknowledge that many of us are grieving, and to remember to be kind and patient with each other and with ourselves. Jesus tells us, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Even as we gear up for the excitement and busyness of choir practices and Sunday school and other fall activities, may we also take time to comfort those among us (and those who come in contact with us) who grieve, that we might be part of that blessing.
With tears and hope,