We all need a glimpse of hope and comfort in these troubling days. Our thoughts and prayers are with our brothers and sisters of the Tree of Life Synagogue, and we are shocked at this and other recent acts of violence and evil. So today, I share with you the writing of Jemma Allen* in hopes that you will find her words as compelling and comforting as I have.
This week in many liturgical traditions we observe All Saints Day, and perhaps All Souls. In some places there is an opportunity to say the names, to light candles for, to ring the bell for those we love but see no longer, parted from us by death.
All Saints and All Souls compel us to look death squarely in the face,
to acknowledge our mortality, and the mortality of those we love,
and still to make our song: Alleluia!
This is a season where we boldly proclaim
that death is not the last word.
Death, and fear of death, does not hold the power
to determine how we will live.
We are the dearly beloved children of the living God,
we are baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection,
we are looking to a future where justice and mercy kiss,
where nations will not learn war anymore,
where the lion lies down with the lamb,
where all things are reconciled to God.
This is our hope.
It is a hope that no power can destroy, tarnish or mar:
not white supremacy,
not any kind of hatred,
not any system of domination,
not any disease,
not any heartbreak.
And when we cannot hold that hope for ourselves,
let us lean into the hope we can hold together
as communities of life, as communities of resistance,
as hope-bearers and pilgrims on the Way.
Give rest, O Christ, to your servants, with your saints,
where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.
You only are immortal, our Creator and Maker;
and we are mortal, formed of the earth, and to earth we shall return.
All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.
– Russian Orthodox Kontakion of the Departed, Jim Cotter’s translation.
*Jemma Allen is a priest in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and a counsellor and spiritual director in private practice. She serves on the Board of RevGalBlogPals and counts the RevGal community as one of her communities of life and resistance.