“Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:42-43
All Hallow’s Eve now fades to memory, with the neighborhood goblins coming down off their sugar high, their bags of goodies shamelessly looted by parents as they sleep. As November 1 dawned, we began a season of remembering those who have gone before us, who died and left for heaven, who crossed over to the other side. In Mexico the “El Dia de los Muertos” falls on November 2 after weeks of elaborate preparation for the altars that honor ancestors: in homes, restaurants and artistically crafted from seeds, flowers and nuts in the street.
Here at church, we celebrate All Saint’s Day on the first Sunday after November 1, which this year falls on November 5. As grief is the sorrow string that binds all people together, we pause to honor and remember with both gratitude and sorrow, those who’ve gone to glory. We’ll bring photos of loved ones to worship, place them before the altar, and bless their memory. We’ll read aloud the more than fifty names of those from this community who died this past year, wounds of their passing still fresh upon us.
“Remember me”, Jesus said to his disciples the night before his death. “Whenever you break bread and bless it, drink wine and share it, remember me.” As he died on the cross, the thief next to him recognized him as God’s beloved. He asked Jesus to remember him when he reached the realm of God. Among Jesus last words on earth, were the promise not only to remember him, but to also be with him in paradise.
We remember and honor the memory of those we’ve loved in order to pass their legacy forward to the next generation. Maybe this is the time to ask our children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, “Have I ever told you a story about your Aunt Betty or Uncle Lou?”
The movie “Coco” tells the story about one family’s “Day of the Dead” opportunity to heal difficult memories of one whose life and death continued to wound the family. We remember in order to honor, yet we sometimes remember to express our anger at things that have happened that we cannot change. Once again, we practice forgiving another layer of hurt all over again.
Remembering heals us to live, and grieving frees us to laugh again. When we remember the past and release our sorrow once again, we can then show up fully in this moment. We practice loving this side of heaven, so that when our turn comes to enter paradise with all the saints in light, the next generation will remember us too.
Prayer: Jesus, we remember you and give you thanks for showing us the way to live and to love. Remember us until we join you in glory, and help us remember and honor those we’ve loved. Amen
God’s grace, mercy and peace be with you,
Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland, Senior Minister
The Community Church of Vero Beach