Honor people here now like those departed
The Rev. Jeff Lilley, pastor, Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 2211 Inverness Drive:
A few years ago, a very popular book about angels painted a heavenly scene where departed loved ones in the form of angels peered over the edges of clouds, warning relatives of impending doom.
While the book is and was popular, its vision was not particularly helpful to me as a Christian. The Bible is not clear on this issue, but there seems to be little evidence that our departed loved ones are "watching over us" in the popular sense. The promise from Christ is eternal life. This is more than enough comfort for me!
Hebrews 12 speaks of the "great cloud of witnesses." The author is encouraging readers to endure in their own suffering for the sake of the faith as did their faith ancestors. Perhaps this is one way we experience our ancestors "looking over us." Through their example of humility, service, love, endurance and joy, we are encouraged to live lives that emulate those positive qualities. They serve as ever-present reminders to live fully in our faith for the sake of the world.
Some faiths venerate the dead and believe deeply that their ancestors watch over them in a very physical sense. Others see death as a transition to a "spirit state" where the dead surround the living like an unseen village. Still others see death as final. Whatever beliefs we hold, it seems important to honor those who have gone before us by honoring and loving one another now. This is our witness that will endure long after we are gone, and may become our "watching over" those who follow after us.
- Send e-mail to Jeff Lilley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are all connected to the seen and unseen
The Rev. Darlene Strickland, pastor, Unity Church of Lawrence, 900 Madeline Lane:
One of the most profound mysteries of life is that it includes death. Nearly all faith traditions teach that although the body dies, the spirit which inhabited it does not. Our spirit is integrated with a dimension of life that transcends physical death.
The death of a loved one is usually accompanied by a distressing experience of grief. When a loved one dies, we have an intense need to know they are safe and at peace.
As such, it is not unusual for people to experience a type of after-death confirmation from a loved one. The experiences range from dream-state encounters, visual and/or audible experiences, a message from or through another person or animal, a precious item mysteriously appears ... and the list goes on.
Does this mean that people on the other side are watching over us? I believe it means that we are all connected - the seen and the unseen.
To some degree, spiritual energies from the unseen realm do remain "present." At times, this presence is discernible; however, why, when, how and if it may occur is unpredictable. I believe there are many dimensions to life; and it is confusing to apply the understanding and "norms" of this realm to other realms.
The greatest insurance policy for death is love, the one presence that transcends any barrier. If we believe we are spiritual beings, emanating from one source, then we can find comfort in accepting that our life is intricately linked with all life. Long after we are gone, our presence will remain. Love never dies.
- Send e-mail to Darlene Strickland at email@example.com.