Death is hard.
Like many of you, I am still shocked at the loss of our dear Edgar Jones. I do not even want to talk about him in the past tense. It’s too jarring. Death has interrupted our lives too harshly.
Yesterday, I saw and spoke to people who loved and knew Edgar all day. Our emotions were varied: anxious, angry, confused, grieved, heartbroken. Today, I’ve spoken with a member of the church who said she feels numb. I want to remind you that whatever you are feeling is faithful. Like the psalmists, we lament. We ask God questions. We cry out. Not all of us are ready to ask, “Oh death where is your sting?” We feel it and it sucks.
Many of you have started sharing stories about Edgar. They speak of his friendliness. He acknowledged everyone by name, didn’t he? He always asked how you were doing. He genuinely cared for people. He reached absolutely everybody with his kindness. You could always depend on him to show up. He was faithful to working the front desk, answering the phones, counting money, making ice cream for the social, attending the Oxford class, ushering at funerals, and yes, putting ashes into the columbarium.
Edgar was also good for a laugh. He was joyful and made people smile.
I’ve been teaching the Oxford class about once a month for awhile. A few mornings, we have shared our stories with one another. I bring in a fishbowl of questions and everyone takes one out. I’m almost certain the first time Edgar drew a question, it was to tell about the greatest gift he’s ever received. I know all of you can anticipate his answer: Mary Sue.
The second time he got a question about his favorite recipe. It was a dish his mother used to make as he was growing up. He told us about each ingredient. The "special" one was something toxic. I mean, like flammable. Something no one should have ever been allowed to eat! We all laughed out loud in disbelief. He said he was serious. And it was delicious.
In the days and weeks to come, we will remember our friend. It will be hard for us to have “firsts” without him there. Offer yourself grace; healing is a process. Grief ebbs and flows. It’s okay to feel whatever we feel when we feel it. Grief is hard on the body. It’s heavy. It is physically exhausting. Take care of yourself. As we said in the sermon a few weeks ago, it’s okay to put the grief down and pick it back up again. It’s okay to take a break from it. It’s too much to hold onto continually.
As a church, we will also hold one another’s grief. We will be reassured of the presence of God because we will lean on each other through shared memories, pictures, hugs, prayers, cries, and laughs. Perhaps we can keep reminding one another: God is with you and so am I.
God, we are thankful for the life of Edgar Jones. In our mixed emotions, hold us. Help us know our feelings are faithful. Offer us strength for today or how about strength for this hour? When it’s too much to bear on our own, help us reach out to those who love us. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
Rev. Sam McGlothlin