We’ve all been impacted by it
When I finally came to peace with the unsettling nudge of the Spirit and selected the scripture passage for this Sunday, I knew what I needed to do. I picked up the phone and called several people in the church impacted by loved ones who died by suicide. I let them know that the sermon this Sunday would explore suicide from often unread stories about it in scripture; and then I listened. I listened to their thoughts on this sermon, what they’re learning through their experience, and what they’ve been through.
What I heard inspired me all the more to put my fears aside and trust Christ’s deeper way of love: suicide is something we can’t ignore, especially as church. There’s so much to learn, and so much more to gain by coming together and talking about it.
Because all of us have been impacted by the reality of suicide–it might have been a celebrity we saw in a movie or a musician we listened to, a family member we loved or a friend we knew, a church member we laughed and smiled with or a co-worker we passed by each day in the office. And our kids know the reality of suicide, too, and have big questions. Suicide has impacted all of us. You would not be alone if suicidal thoughts crept up in your mind in moments of great anguish, pain or grief. It’s far more common than we might realize.
If the topic of suicide makes you squeamish, that’s okay–it does me, too. We’ve been conditioned to turn away from it, to not talk about it, to paper over it and move on. It’s not polite conversation. And I don’t ever remember a sermon about suicide (I sure haven’t preached one). Suicide is no less real for the silence, and all the more powerful as it lurks in the shadows of our lives. The silence further isolates us and cripples compassion–for ourselves, and for each other.
The antidote to that is courageous conversation in the deeper way of Christ’s love.
So you are invited to engage with me in a difficult and tragic scripture story this Sunday. Because the bible is full of real life, in all its difficulty and complexity. And the Risen Christ always meets us there, too, if we learn how to look.
But just because it’s important for us to engage these stories and this topic, it might not mean this Sunday is right for you or your family. There may be lots of big emotions that you aren’t quite ready for. Or you may be carrying an experience that is too raw or too recent. Whatever your reasons and whatever your decision about attending or tuning in, I want you to know that your you are loved by God and this church. I want you to know that this church is here for you and that you are not alone as someone grieving or someone struggling.
Indeed, that’s exactly what I heard from the people I shared phone calls with recently: great gratitude for a church that cares, shows up, and extends compassion.
So if and when the time is right, you can always reach out for a conversation. Pastor Holly and I are always up for a chat–as are are many others in the church. And perhaps you just need a bit more time or some time alone to listen to the message–you can access it when you’re ready on the South Elkhorn podcast or watch the service on the Facebook page or website.
If you do choose to drive in or sit on the lawn at 10:30 AM this Sunday, I also want you to know that Felito Aldarondo will be there. He is an Elder and professional psychologist, and he will be available to chat at the stage following the outdoor worship service should you have questions or just want to chat.
We are in the middle of the Easter season. And Christ remains in the middle of our lives, in all our struggles, questions, and fears–inviting us to trust again that God still has a bigger story to tell with us and through us.