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A Family of Support in a Time of Grief

Regardless of one’s stage in life, certain dates are remembered. A child’s birthday, a couple’s first date, the birthday of a beloved pet, perhaps the date you were offered your dream job and, of course, wedding anniversaries! For most of us those landmark dates also include the date a loved one passed from this life to the next. While birthdays are typically observed in a group with much festivity, dates such as the passing of a spouse or parent or child are more typically observed with some solitary reflection. I have lived long enough to now observe a couple of those dates – in honor of my brother and mother – and I can tell you that, even with the passage of time, those observances are difficult.

With this coming Sunday’s observance of All Saints Day, the BMPC congregation and friends in the community will be given the privilege of coming together as a very large family – to remember our loved ones, especially those who have left this earth during the past year. This will be the third year that BMPC has come together to become a family of support in a time of grief. During this most poignant service of the year, the choir will offer one of the must beautiful choral works of the 20th century, Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem. Composed in 1947, Duruflé’s setting follows the form and character of Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem that was offered on BMPC’s first observance of All Saints Sunday in 2013. According to Duruflé, his setting of the Requiem “represents the idea of peace, of faith, and of hope.”  

Duruflé’s masterpiece, presented along with Dr. Norfleet’s sermon, the Lord’s Supper, the reading of the names of those members who have died this past year, and the tolling of the carillon, will demonstrate the church at work as an agent of comfort and peace and a powerful witness to Christ’s Resurrection.

Some time ago, I came across this poem by Rabbi Rami Shapiro. I’ve returned to it often, to reflect on its imagery and am pleased to share it with you in closing:

Life and death,
a twisted vine sharing a single root
A water bright green
stretching to top a twisted yellow
only to wither itself
as another green unfolds overhead.
One leaf atop another
yet under the next,
a vibrant tapestry of arcs and falls
all in the act of becoming.
Death is the passing of life.
And life
is the stringing together of so many
little passings.

~ Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro