A couple of weeks ago I had a wonderful phone call. My friend managed perfect timing, catching me in the 15 minute gap between the end of one thing and the start of the next. It was a wonderful phone call because he was calling to let me know that he and his wife, also a very close friend of mine (indeed, of Mrs Nomad and the wee one as well), were at home with their newborn child. It’s a baby boy, and it’s their first child. That phone call was such good news. They have been talking about having a family for quite a while now but, for their own reasons (which I don’t know and even if I did I wouldn’t recount them here!), had been putting it off. Now they have a wonderful, healthy son. I know they will make wonderful parents, and my guess is that in the not too distant future we will get further news of another impending birth.
Then, last night and this morning, I received messages of a different kind. The first let me know that a woman I had regularly visited at her home when I worked for the church, who had given so much of her life to the church and to God and who was now housebound and unable to make it to worship on a Sunday, had had a further stroke and was in hospital. This was followed, this morning, by a further message letting me know that she had passed away over night. I always enjoyed my visits, and I know she enjoyed them too. She was such a positive person, who had lived an amazing life and who, despite her situation, had not become downhearted. She would take comfort in having her wonderful garden to look out on, and a wonderful family and friends who visited her. I know her family will miss her greatly, and so will I.
As a minister I, like all my colleagues, will see life in its fullness. I will be invited to share in the joy of life, in weddings and baptisms, and I will be asked to share in the sorrow of life, in picking up the pieces of broken relationships and in funerals and committals. And we are able to properly able to join in that joy and sorrow because we too are people who have experienced such things. That is not to say that a couple’s happiness in the birth of their child or a person’s grief in the loss of their mother or father is necessarily an opportunity to express our own happiness or grief, but it is through a shared experience of those emotions that we can offer what support we are able.
And in this circle of life where is the good news, which we as Christians are called to share with the world? Well it is, in part, in the fact that, through Christ’s life, death and resurrection, God too has shared in those experiences, not just in a spiritual way but also in a physical way. Jesus shared in the joy of a wedding at Cana, and wept at the death of his friend Lazarus. God, in Jesus Christ, experienced what we all experience, which is the cycle of life and death. And God continues to share in it.
I am full of joy for my friends and their new addition to their family. I am full of grief for my loss and the loss of all her family and friends at the death of a wonderful and inspiring woman. And I take comfort in knowing that God shares in those feelings with me