“Blessed are those who mourn …” (Matthew 5:4)
This is one of the opening lines of a sermon even people who have never been to church are familiar with. Its power has to do with its universal appeal – who hasn’t mourned? But perhaps we can add a word to that line before continuing with the for they will be comforted part. What if we add the word “together“.
When a couple from England came looking for a place to pray a week ago, they wanted to be in spiritual solidarity with family and friends who were gathering to honor, mourn for and remember an elderly aunt who had died. The funeral was taking place in the middle of their scheduled trip to the United States; but they wanted to attend at least “in spirit”. We willingly opened our sanctuary for them on the appointed day; but we did more than that. We invited people to “come mourn together” with this unknown couple and their far-away relative. And people came (pictured above).
Perhaps you read the article about the British couple who decided to visit the Jane Austen Museum and while there they happened upon a funeral. Passing an attractive little church, they decided to stop in. There were trees and flowers and an interesting graveyard outside, all beckoning to them to step through the door. Inside there were flowers and stained glass and a few people milling around. They were looking around intently and never saw the coffin at the front of the church when it began to occur to them that it looked like a service of some sort was about to begin. They are atheists, but decided to stay for the service. They intended to position themselves so as to be able to leave inconspicuously. The church pews began to fill up and they found themselves stuck in the middle. They had stumbled upon a funeral for Colin. Suddenly they were “Accidental Mourners“.
The line that caught my attention in the article is this: “I heard crying a few rows in front. I began to cry as well. I couldn’t help myself. Tears were rolling down my cheeks. I realized that the act of mourning is communal. I could feel the sadness all around me, and was engulfed by it, as if I had been plugged into it just by being there.”
When I read or hear the news there is always plenty to be sad about. Indeed, isn’t it true that there is sadness all around us? Let’s not be afraid to mourn; but let’s mourn together. “Blessed are those who mourn together.” That’s when true comfort comes. And that’s when our mourning has the best chance of being not only comforted, but transformed into hope and joy.
A blessed Tuesday.