matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, November 23, 2013
The last Sunday of this liturgical year is at hand. Tomorrow, the church where I worship celebrates a special Sunday. This church is steeped in both the Lutheran and the German Reformed traditions, so tomorrow is “Totenfest,” or the day the church remembers all members (and in some churches, friends of the church, too) who have died since the last Sunday of the liturgical year, 2012.
So the church remembers. The recently departed are still fresh in many people’s memories. But not only people depart. The year departs, too. The close of November is the close of the growing season, where the growing things out of doors lose their leaves, shrivel, dry up. Or, go into hibernation and stasis, until the spring comes again. This is a quiet season, a contemplative time. So it is with Totenfest tomorrow, too.
Psalm 39:4 says, “Lord, let me know my end, and what is the measure of my days.” Such sober thoughts are a bit challenging. Not the first verses suggested for beginners at this business of prayer and meditation. However, this season and tomorrow’s commemoration of Totenfest encourage us to meditate on verses like these.
Perhaps a verse from the Apostle Paul will be more accessible. “For we are well aware that when the tent that houses us on earth is folded up, there is a house for us from God, not made by human hands but everlasting, in the heavens.” (2 Cor 5:1) Here, Paul talks about our temporary housing, the tent that can (and will) be easily disassembled. We can meditate on the time when our measure of days comes to an end, and look forward to that house from God, where we will dwell with our God forever. No longer sojourners, passing through. We’ll have a real home-coming, to our everlasting, heavenly home.
Let’s pray. Dear God, we remember those who have passed through this life, especially those who died this past year. We celebrate their life and commemorate their blessed memory. We pray for those who mourn, who grieve not only the passing of loved ones, but the passing of the year. Help us to remember that our measure of days is in Your hand, and that You will surely welcome us into our everlasting, heavenly home. In Your mercy and peace we pray, Amen.