Saturday, October 5, 2013

Walking through the door for grief or... blessed are those who mourn

I think the older I get the more I realize how everybody is carrying something.  Everyone is carrying baggage that is invisible to those around, but as we walk this journey of the in-between life we are weighed down by the weight of the burdens we carry.

Maybe you're carrying a burden of anxiety, or shame, or guilt, or fear, or sickness.  Maybe the burden you are carrying today is the grief you feel at the loss of a loved one.  Maybe you are carrying the burden of a wrong(s) done to you of which you had no control.  Maybe you are carrying the burden of having done wrong to someone and don't know where to put that wrong.

Maybe you're a believer of Jesus, you know the message of the cross and the hope it brings, but're BURDENED.

There's a place in Jerusalem, along the temple wall, called the Hulda gate.  I learned when I was there that this gate was a special gate.  During the Jewish holidays and religious days, "the eastern gates were used for entry to the temple, while the western gates for exit.  The only exception was for visitors in periods of mourning, which entered in reverse direction, so the public will know about their loss and wish them well."
Read more about this gate here

This is a fascinating piece of history and I wonder, on this cool overcast Saturday morning in Wisconsin, what our places of worship would look like in the United States if we had such entrances and exits in our churches.

Then I wonder, would we all be going through the "exit" door, rather than the entrance gate.  I'm sure there would be plenty of folks who would expect the recent mourners to go in the reverse direction.  The ones who are mourning the recent loss of a loved one in death.  That seems logical and expected.  We can give people the space they need in the face of a death.

But what if those who mourn and needed to walk through the exit door were those who are mourning the loss of their childhood because of abuse, or they are mourning the loss of their marriage due to divorce, or they are mourning the loss of a relationship because of substance abuse.  

What if those people started walking through those exits doors?

I wonder.....

Would we know what to say?  Would we feel comfortable offering a touch on the shoulder or a squeeze of the hand? 

Jesus knows what to say and do for those who are mourning.  He touches us.  He feels our burdens, He feels our griefs. 

He doesn't just pity us, He has compassion on us.  He doesn't just say to us, "I'm sorry for your loss," and moves on.  Jesus is moved with compassion for us.  He "splagchnizomai" for us.  He is moved in the inward parts.  He doesn't just pity us, he has a "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it."  He feels it with us.  He feels the grief we feel, with us.

He doesn't tell us we shouldn't feel that way, or "don't you think it's time you moved on from this grief?"

No!  Not Jesus!

He knows when we're fighting to not get overwhelmed with grief and he knows when we're doing all we can to avoid feeling the grief.  

Your grief, in whatever stage or degree you're in, no matter what caused it, He feels it too!  He's touching you on that shoulder as you walk in through the exit door.  He's squeezing your hand, whispering in your ear, "I know."

Give it to Him to carry.

It's not for you to be weighed down by it.

Give your grief to Him whose shoulders are never too small and never get crowded by the world's grief. 

Blessed are you who mourn, for you will be comforted.  You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you.  Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.  


Matthew 5:4; 9:35; 14:14;     Mark 6:34;     Luke 7:13; 10:33; 15:20

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