In a growing congregation full to the gills with young families, it’s a challenge to convey the sacred thread of tradition and history that connects us in a small New England town. We’re surrounded by city, and our lives are wrapped up in a cosmopolitan and economically anxious pace that keeps us moving from activity to activity without any real time for reflection. My people land at church on Sunday morning and want that moment to rest, to connect, and then to get back “on track” with the list that will continue the day. I am no different.
Last week, a beloved member of our congregation died. She lived a long life, and it was her time. But what goes with her is more than just the single, remarkable life she led. She connected us with a lineage that went back over a century, and in the stories she told and the people she encountered she covered the major events of the 20th century. There is nothing that feels like enough to mark such a passage, nothing that can convey the loss, or the memory, or the importance of that link. We offered a lovely funeral for her. The choir was spectacular. People shared stories, eloquently told on the spot. We enjoyed an elegant luncheon befitting our dear departed’s own generosity as a hostess. Now, it is for us to continue to tell the stories, to live the legacy she passed along to us in a million ways. And hope we were paying attention.
Gentle god, god who spans time and space and memory, touch our hearts with the significance of each life we encounter. Grant us the curiosity to ask the stories of those near to us and dear, and to sit humbly at their feet, be they old or young, and learn the wisdom of their lives. Bless us with the time to enjoy the gifts we offer one another in our simple presence. Help us remember again and again the stories of those who have gone before, who have made us who we are, and who gave us this rich heritage. Equip us with an ever growing understanding of yesterday, so that we might build tomorrow with compassion, with dignity, and with humility. In your holy names, o god, we pray. Amen.