Christ our undying hope

A fabulous sermon by Bishop Alan Wilson of the Church of England, at a service for Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide, an English group:

Thank you for the opportunity to share with you in this gathering, and for your courage in coming. We each bring with us today a story of someone who matters to us, and always will. Each pebble taken, received and given, represents a story. Each story is deeply personal, but involves suicide and self harm. I remember as a very young vicar in Reading being really upset by Nick’s suicide — a young man with everything to live for, I thought. I went to see Father Tom, my Roman Catholic colleague. He said to me, “The hardest thing in some ways is to stop trying to renegotiate the outcome with the person we loved, and respect their decision. Only then can you leave God to sort out the big stuff.”

Fr Tom’s wise words reflect another problem, tied up in being human. When somebody we love dies, there’s a powerful instinct find out why and fix responsibility. It quickly becomes a tortuous game of “if only…” This always happens. In John’s gospel, when Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus died, what did they say to Jesus? “Sir, if only you had been here this would never have happened.” Perhaps there was a great temptation to a busy Messiah building a reputation to agree — “I could have sorted it for you.” In fact Jesus said the exact opposite — “I am glad I was not here.” Not very sensitive, but an encouragement to confront head on a powerful instinct to try and renegotiate the circumstances of the death of someone we love…

Read the rest. Please.

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