Four deaths in four weeks! That’s what the congregation has dealt with since the first of the year – the loss of four of its own. These things seem to happen in waves, which I cannot explain. But when they come, they can be tough, overwhelming. You begin to wonder if it will end.


I have dealt with these “waves” of loss many times in my years of ministry. Death is a part of life and sometimes it comes in bunches and really gets your attention. One time I did four funerals in one week, that was quite an overwhelming experience!


But I have also found that these times are ones that can spring forth with goodness. I have found that out of death, we can find life. First, I am reminded of the hope that we have as a people of God that death does not have the final say but that the resurrected Christ does. The Apostle Paul reminds us that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus – not even death itself. We have the assurance of a loving God that has conquered sin, evil and death itself and gives us life eternal. The grave is empty, death has lost its sting.


The other piece of goodness that I experience in these times is that it reminds me of the value of life and having my priorities and perspectives in proper order. It is easy to get caught up in the everyday stuff of life that we neglect to see how much a gift each day actually is. We forget about the gift of loved ones in our lives and the joy they bring. We forget about the gift of the creation around us and the beauty in which we exist. We forget the many blessings we have been given that allow us to live day to day. Death causes me to pause and reflect upon the goodness of life!


I am reminded of the words of Jesus to his disciples when he is talking with them about his upcoming death. He asks them, “What good is it to gain the whole world and lose your life in the process? What can you give in return for your life?” Many people today are dying slow deaths because all they focus on is their own needs or desires and what they can get for themselves. Many people are so consumed in being successful or making money or getting more stuff that they do not see that life is passing them by. How much of a gift is your life to you? What are your priorities? What if your life on earth ended soon?


The beautiful thing about our God is that our God is one that continually brings life out of death, light out of darkness. In the midst of all that life can sometimes throw us, God has the final say. We are freed to live a life of love and joy and take in the life we have been given. Even in the midst of January cold and dreariness, spring is but around the corner as once again we will celebrate new life and new joy!

Pastor Scott Sessler
Emmanuel Lutheran Church


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