Today is a defining moment for me as it is the first Father’s Day I celebrate without my father and the first time I preach since his passing almost a month-and-a-half ago. Admittedly, a day hasn’t gone by where I haven’t thought about him and chuckled to myself when recalling one of our conversations. There have been times when I’ve even replayed his messages just so I could hear his voice again. Indeed, there are moments when grief rises like flood waters and threaten to submerge my soul and then there are moments when I sense a supernatural peace massage away my sorrow. Church, over the past few weeks I have come to respect the power of loss. I know we don’t hear that very often, but I’ve realized loss is an agent used to continuously shape and reshape the world around us. And, it’s a tool that frames and reframes our perception. Yes, it is to be respected.
Loss comes in many different forms and varying degrees – it can be the loss of a job, friend, relative or beloved pet. No matter the form, it will all interrupt our routine and initiate a new rhythm we must ache to live into. It will shift us from eating our food with gladness and a joyful heart as Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 9 to eating the bread of sorrows as he stated in Psalm 127. Yes, while we still eat, that is, while we still go about our daily activities, we do so with altered emotions – joyful hearts turned sorrow-filled, mild-mannered temperaments now roused and uncontrolled, and focus turned to confusion and disorientation. The impact of loss cannot be overstated for there are real changes that occur inside a person who’s living in the shadows of loss. Ask the aging father who’s strength and agility are beginning to fail or the mother who’s wit and beauty are slowly fading. While there are apparent signs of loss, there are also not-so-apparent impacts of loss occurring inside one’s mind and psyche.
I recently heard a preacher say, “In the wake of loss a community learns to live with less.” Isn’t that powerful! The idea suggests that not only does loss strip us of what we had but it teaches us to live in the minus. While we all like the idea of living in God’s addition and multiplication, the truth is, some of God’s mathematics include subtraction and division equations. And, while we might not preach it often, some of God’s arithmetic actually results in negative sums. In other words, while God’s omnipotence ensures that “all things work together for the good of them that love him,” the truth is, the “good” may leave you without something. In the wake of the loss of nine lives at Emanuel AME Church, residents of Charleston, SC will have to learn to live with less and into a new rythmn that was created when a deranged young man walked in, sat among them, then opened fire upon their bible study. The loss of those lives in that one city has altered emotions and perceptions of safety and security – particularly in the house of God. In light of this subtraction, we now prayerfully wait to see and hear what God’s good is for Charleston and the country as a whole.
Follow the series:
A New Normal - Part I
A New Normal Continued - Part II
For more posts from Dawrell, visit his blog at dawrellgrich.wordpress.com
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