Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Sermon

I was struggling with whether or not to post this. As the weekend retreat came to an end, we had a memorial service for our lost children, having named them, and offered them up to the Lord. Following the memorial service was a Resurrection service, to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the fact that our children live with Him.

As I delivered the closing words, I wanted to encourage us to maintain what God had started. Take this in context, as it was delivered after much healing was done. I hope this will encourage someone else, too.

Here’s my sermon:

The weekend has brought a wide range of emotions. Think back on what you were feeling when you arrived: the apprehension, the anxiety, the sadness… The exercises over the weekend have brought healing for all of us in many different degrees. We have gone to the past to remember painful times, and in some cases uncover things we haven’t thought about because it was too painful.
We’ve shared with each other our pain and our joys. Understand that the pain and sadness of death and grief does not have the final say in our walk of recovery. The joy that God brings through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus is the last word.
Even as we have faced the reality of the loss of our children, even more now is the reality of our healing, and the hope of what lies ahead – an eternity with our children and our Lord.
As we reflect today on the hope that we have and that we now feel, I want to encourage us as we go forward with this hope. We have the privilege now of living this life of hope as a witness to those who knew us in our darkness.
Be encouraged that God is familiar with our emotions. He sent Jesus to become man so that He would know us, feel what we feel, suffer as we suffer, and experience joy as we experience joy. He understands us intimately, and even deeper than we know ourselves.
His Word tells us that “He came so that we could have life, and have it more abundantly.” Jesus Christ is intimately aware of our feelings, our actions, and our needs. He has already provided everything we have need of through His life, death, and resurrection. He knows us intimately – He knew us while we were sinners and still loved us then. He knows us in our broken heartedness, through our times of darkness, and he knows us through our healing.
Hold on to and embrace the intimacy you found here this weekend. Some of you may be afraid of losing that closeness when you head home today; or that the joy and peace you found will be lost as we go back to our daily lives.
Today is not “the end” of our healing process; it is a new beginning, a new starting point, a “launching pad” back into the world. The same intimacy you found here is the same intimacy Christ desires with us every day. God’s grace and presence is just as real at home, at work, at school, in times of loneliness, in our temptations, our struggles, our celebrations, as it is here.
Grace is portable. He is with us wherever we go. His understanding patience, compassion, gentleness, humility, and His love are with us – even when we don’t feel Him. Remember some of the exercises we did. Remember what you felt as you listened to each meditation:
The forgiveness of the woman caught in adultery
The healing of your blindness
The raising of Lazarus, and our own dead parts of our life
The touching of Jesus’ cloak
The hope Jesus gave the woman at the well
The cup of grace we poured and shared today
The breath of heaven…
Remember you are healed…You are forgiven…You are included in His mercy.
God loves you. And He loves us so much that He doesn’t want us to stay where we are. Paul tells us to “press on toward the prize of the high calling of Jesus Christ.” Jesus endured the pain and suffering of humanity and His death and crucifixion, for the hope of the glory that lay ahead.
Now go – hold onto Christ. Run after Him with everything you’ve got. He loves you and wants the best for you.

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