During this past year with Covid – 19 the most difficult part of my work as a pastor has been being a part of a funeral or memorial service. Claybanks United Methodist Church has lost two dear members of our congregation and a son of one of our congregation’s family. I have been asked by some of our members how and when are we to grieve? My love for all as your pastor is to be a supporting person in the grieving process for family, friends or anyone who grieves with the loss of someone. The restrictions that Covid-19 has placed on pastors and churches have created what I would describe as the most difficult situation in church life and my role as a pastor.
Grief is a healthy emotion, designed to help us deal with loss. One’s level of faith affects the outcome of the grieving process but neither the need to grieve nor the time required to do it can be measured. Spiritual leaders of the church, like everyone else, encounter their share of grief and loss. Friends are lost. Important people in their lives and in the life of the church can never be measured or replaced. Covid-19 has created a separation from family and friends and as pastors our world has changed significantly in how we are able to come beside those who grieve. We as pastors so much want to be with those who grieve in a significant way.
We all need to express our pain and grief in a loss of a family member, a loved one or a friend. We as humans are not meant to suffer in silence, without emotion, but we must grieve in a very meaningful way. In John 11:35 Jesus has come to Lazarus’s grave and it says Jesus began to weep. So, they said, “See how he loved him!” Jesus in his human nature wept at the loss of his friend Lazarus. The son of God knew that sorrow is passing, and that joy is forever, yet it did not prevent him from standing in his grief when that was the emotion that arose in him.
Appropriate grieving involves expressing the pain of loss, not burying it. We are not able, without expressing our loss, to move on or replace the lost with something new. When we grieve together it takes place in community, not just in the solitude of a few. Grief helps the healing and time alone does not heal. God heals.
As your pastor and a member of the Claybanks United Methodist Church Family I know that we have not grieved the way we should have been able to during this past year. It is my promise to you, and to the families that have experienced loss, that we will have, when the time is right and Covid-19 no longer can hold the grip on us, a Memorial Service where we the community of faith can grieve and express our love as we gather round those who have lost loved ones during this past year. When we can gather cannot yet be determined so let us promise each other that in God’s time, we as the community of faith, will gather to celebrate the lives of God’s Saints in a special time and loving way together.