Remember Them, and Carry the Light
May 29, 2005
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning. God bless you, one and all. I’d like to take few minutes to talk with you about how we shall remember well our dear ones who have gone to the Lord. It is Memorial Day, and perhaps we are remembering those who have given their lives for our country. Perhaps you are remembering a dear one who has passed away recently. How shall we remember them well? How shall we deal with the grief in our hearts? Do we face the situation as Christians? I invite us to remember those everlasting words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
What does blessed mean? Blessed means fulfilled. Blessed means satisfied inside. Blessed means balanced and right with God. Blessed is a wonderful word. So it is with you who mourn – “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” said Jesus.
I heard recently of the passing of someone who has meant a lot to me, the priest who baptized me and performed the funeral of my sister, offered a prayer of thanksgiving at our house, offered me Holy Communion numerous times. I served in church as acolyte with him when I was a little boy. Oh, how I wish I had visited him and talked with him more!
How shall we remember them well? I have three thoughts for us, friends. I would invite you, as you consider the feelings in your hearts, to keep in mind three thoughts. These are three thoughts for when you deal with the “R” word. Do you deal with the “R” word? I do – regret. If only. If only I had done this. Can anyone identify with that feeling?
Well, here are three ways I’d like to offer today. Light three candles with me, won’t you? The first candle is the candle of love. When you have sad, regretful feelings, fill your heart with love. Let love fill your life like wind fills a sail. Turn from all else and turn to the love of Jesus Christ. Let it fill you. And when you think of your loved ones, when you think of those soldiers in Arlington, fill your heart with love, overflowing, abundant love, and let it flow from you to your loved ones, to those soldiers. Let love fill your heart and overshadow everything else. Love, and gratitude. When you think of them, think of those words, won’t you? They need our love, our prayers, our gratitude. Let it happen. Let it flow from you all the way to the other side of creation. Let love flow from God, through you, to your loved ones. Let love flow through you to those you have with you! Make that call; say those kind words; be always remembered as the one who said the kind word. Let love flow.
Second is the candle in front of the cross, the candle of faith. You’re a Christian. That’s wonderful. Perhaps those who have gone before have shared your Christian faith. If not, you’re still a Christian, and you still have hope. Remember the words of St. Paul – “Grieve not as those who have no hope.” Grieve, yes, we do; it’s part of life. But grieve not as those who have no hope. Grieve as one who misses that other in this earthly plane, but grieve with the knowledge that Jesus promised that where He is, we also shall be. Grieve with the knowledge that one day we will be reunited in that wonderful banquet of love in heaven. Grieve with the knowledge that you and the one whom you love share the eternal faith in Jesus Christ which lasts forever. Grieve, yes, but grieve with faith, knowing that your faith sees you through. When you come to worship, be connected to them. And as you sing, be part of the unending chorus of glory to which they are also a part, in the community of saints.
Third, light a candle of purpose. I have a bell here [bell ringing]. Ring a bell! Your loved one rang a bell. Your loved one had a purpose. I have a statue here of Jesus with the children, given to me by a dear friend here in the church. Jesus had a purpose, and your loved one had a purpose. Your loved one had wonderful characteristics. Why don’t you pick up the light and carry it on? Select one thing, one characteristic to carry on into the future. Was your loved one particularly kind? I’ll bet you’re kind, too. Let that kindness glow and grow and shine. Did your loved one have a way with people? I’ll bet you can, too. Let that characteristic glow and shine. Did your loved one have a way of helping people? Pick up that flag; light that candle. Carry it into the world; be the one who carries forth the blessing of your loved one that was so well begun.
Carry the light, my friend. Remember well, and carry the light – the light of love, the light of faith, the light of your mutual purpose, and you will be blessing them well. You will find that the promise of Jesus is true: “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.