I have to say that preparing my talk for this afternoon’s All Soul’s service was one of the harder things I have had to do so far in ministry. I am indebted to Rosalind both for her comments on my last post, and also the guidance she gave me by email.
Reflecting now on my struggles, I suspect that it was for two main reasons:
- It felt right to make use of my own emotions at a point of bereavement in my life, and I knew I wanted to focus on the image of feet (my mother’s and Christ’s) – but part of my difficulty was to see a moment in my life that I have until now tended to regard as negative, almost repulsive, in a positive light that would be something that might help others. The result I think is that it has helped me to love my mother more.
- I was uncertain as to what I understood, or wanted to say theologically speaking. I’m still really not sure what I have said, but I wanted to be sure not only to provide people who have been bereaved with some comfort in the memories heightened by such a service. Knowing that several of them do not have regular contact with church, I also wanted to offer some affirmation that through Jesus the power of death has been broken, and we can hope in a future of love with God and with those who we have lost.
I used readings from Lamentations 3 and 1 Thessalonians 4. The Lamentations reading, is one of comfort that gave me phrases I could hook my talk onto. However, in retrospect I’m not sure the latter was the right reading to chose, but I haven’t yet worked out what I might use on a future occasion.
If you want to read what I finally said it’s here: Service Thanksgiving – Remembering (All Souls 2010) Talk Feel free to comment below if you can spare the time – and remember I will learn most from constructive criticism!
If you want to read a story that someone else used, here is one that Revd Lesley posted this evening, that raised a lump to my throat.
The service also included a poem I found in a book at my father’s. ‘A Psalm of Hope in Bereavement’ written by Jenny Gateau in “Mike’s Story – a Journey of Grief and Grace” published in 1997 by SPCK. In an effort to stick to copyright rules, I’ve not printed it here but I thoroughly recommend both the book and the poem.
Random facts: my mother was called Lesley. Though never wishing to be ordained herself, she was a member of the Movement for the Ordination for Women, travelled to Ripon in 1994 for the first service (I think) where women were ordained to the priesthood, and studied Pastoral Theology at a Catholic theology institute. She died in 1997 before completing those studies.