Our hearts break with two of our members who, together with their extended family, buried their eight-day old grandson last weekend. He was born three months premature.
And this Thursday, a tragic traffic accident took the life of Lily Kate Powell, the beautiful nine-year old daughter of our new Director of Family and Children’s Ministries and her husband, Jennifer and Tim Powell. We grieve deeply with them, Lily Kate’s brothers Danny and Patrick, and so many friends and family who are struggling to come to terms with this sudden loss.
At times like this, we can be overcome with grief. We struggle with words of comfort. We struggle to explain to young children that their friend, cousin, or sibling has died. We struggle to comfort the mother and father whose son or daughter has died. The promise of the resurrection seems so distant when the time here on Earth has been so short.
I’m comforted that I’m not on my own here — that we are not on our own. Paul writes in Romans 8:26–27, as interpreted in The Message, that, “God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans.” So when our words fail us, like they do now, we as a body are lifted up by none other than the Spirit given to us by Christ.
In the silence, the Spirit sometimes speaks to us through the lives that were closest to us, with ways we can honor the memory of a life that was too short. I believe that the Spirit has been speaking to Jennifer and Tim this week in this way, as they find strength in the midst of tragedy to always, always forgive. Jennifer asked me to share this article with the congregation:
Their grace models God’s grace to us…grace that sometimes only comes through our wordless sighs and aching groans.
Brothers and sisters, we need each other, in times like this more than ever. As I said in my sermon this morning, there’s something good and pleasant about being in unity with the body of Christ. There’s nothing more beautiful than the church being the church — when we are recipients of Christ made manifest through His people, our brothers and sisters in the faith who pray for us and lift us up. I have seen that these families are lifted up by your shield of prayer and and by countless acts of mercy that you are pouring out on them.
So, Kingswood, when words fail us, let’s turn to action as the body of Christ. Following the example in 1 Peter, let’s “keep loving one another earnestly…show hospitality to one another…as each has received a gift, use it to serve one another.” Let’s continue to find ways to reflect the grace that God has poured out on us, and forgive. And let’s continue to pray for each other with whatever means we have — words or song, sighs or groans. As we do this, even in this midst of loss, we as the church can still claim, “The best of all is God is with us.”
Grace and peace,