“This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day.”John 6:40 (NRSVue)
Those who have died, that have been a direct part of our lives, they still live. Our hearts and memories hold them close (or far). Their good and bad helped shape us, for good and bad.
Today is All Souls Day. The day that is also termed as the Commemoration of the Faithful Departed. However, even those who do not believe that Jesus is Lord and Savior have had an impact on those of us who do so believe. It might be a stretch to want to take a church tradition and expand it, but the truth is that many of us have that person who is gone, who we miss.
They may have not been a believer. They may have been baptized as infants or children, but were either not raised in the faith, or lapsed. Depending, of course, on one’s tradition/theology, that baptism may or may not seal them to Christ. Ultimately, it isn’t up to us.
This is a little personal, I suppose. My stepfather died a number of years ago (my mom has since remarried to a good man). I realized all the conversations we didn’t have, and they are a source of regret. I remember learning that my stepfather had been baptized as a child. That was news to me. I learned it as he was being lowered into his grave.
Then I looked at his library. He was an avid reader. He read far more broadly than I ever have. What shocked me was the books about the Bible and religion. As an English teacher, they shouldn’t have surprised me. They were read. They had not been ignored or put on a shelf and forgotten (like many of my books), though they may have not been read in quite some time. Who knows where is heart really was with Christ? I could assume. I do hope.
Did my stepfather and I have issues? Of course! Yet, he still formed me. It is not unreasonable to grieve that he is gone. He was long part of my life. There is a hole where he was. My mom, dad, stepmom have their own places in my life, so this is not exclusionary, which is also important. No person can ever take the place of another.
Another can help you heal from the damage of bad history (including abuse), but they cannot replace someone else.
Perhaps today ought to be the day we set aside in our calendar to remember, mourn, celebrate, reflect, upon the lives of others and how they touched us. If you’re reading this, you are likely a believer in Jesus Christ. As such, we who believe also call Jesus the Redeemer. We can take solace, hope, and joy in that. Jesus can redeem both the joys and pains in regard to those who have touched our lives.
May it be so.
Which deceased person has affected your walk with Christ (for good or bad)? How did they affect your walk? How do you imagine their life through the eyes of Jesus?
Ask another person who the most impactful deceased person has been in their life, and share yours. As you talk together, where can you see the redemptive power of Jesus?
God, you have place people in our lives to help guide us into your ways. Some of them have been undisguised blessings, some are so through the redemptive power of your Son. Holy Spirit, guide our hearts and thoughts to see the power and influence of others in our lives. Amen.