Author: Pastor Krista

For all the saints, who from their labors rest…

As I write this, it is officially All Saints Day, November 1. The church will celebrate this commemoration on Sunday with specially chosen Scripture readings, hymns of remembrance and the annual “Litany of the Saints.”

This is the first All Saints where I will hear my father’s name lifted up and included among the remembered saints who have gone before us. To be honest, I’m not sure what that will feel like. Will I choke back tears and try to hold myself together? Will I smile with the fondness of good memories that I hold in my heart? Will I be able to say his name in joy or struggle to say it at all?

Maybe there will be others among us feeling the same pulls of grief this Sunday, as they hear the names of loved ones lifted up before us in grateful remembrance. Some will smile and remember with fondness all the good times and the love that was shared. Some will only be able to feel the sorrow of the loss – the empty pew beside them, the empty chair at home, the phone calls no longer shared between them, the voice they can no longer quite hear or the face they can no longer quite see before them in their mind’s eye. Some will be angry – angry at the deceased for leaving them and/or angry at God for taking them away. And some, some will feel the push and pull of grief, the blending of thankfulness and loss. And some, well…I’m sure there are some who might even long to forget the very name and memories left behind.

Grief is a very complicated process and one that never fully ends. It is the very natural result of a life spent loving another human being – even if that love was spent in continually hoping the relationship was different. Once grief comes to us, it will be with us every day of our lives. It will just wear different clothes depending on the day. In other words, each day’s experience of it will never be like another’s. And, just like we each have our own style of dress and clothes, so we each have our own way of grieving. There is no one set timetable, no one set way of experiencing it, no one set of words you’re supposed to have for talking about it. One day you’ll be sobbing in your pajamas just thinking about the one not there and the next you’ll be laughing and raising a glass to their memory.

I loved my dad. I will always love my dad. And I am thankful every day that our God has been faithful to the promises they made to my dad in his baptism – to love my dad always, to forgive my dad of his sins, and to be my dad’s God forever. I trust that Jesus has welcomed my dad into the place that he prepared for him, a place at Jesus’ side in the glory of life everlasting. I believe that God has cured my dad’s cancer and his afib and his chronic pain, and that they have given my dad a new body which is free from sun and death. God has wiped the tears from his eyes and my dad will never taste death again.

I trust and believe all of this, but I still grieve. I grieve, but I still trust and believe all of this. For as Paul encouraged the Thessalonians, I grieve, but I grieve as one with hope. May it be for you as well.

For Alfred Charles Vingelis, and for all the saints who from their labors rest.