Well, there are weeks, and then there are weeks.
And this has been a doozy of a week, hasn’t it?
First, we learned of Jan’s mom’s recent death. Then Bill Greene’s unexpected death last Sunday night with his funeral this Saturday at 9 am. And that’s in the context of Sheila McCluskey’s funeral this Saturday at 11 am. And all this is happening within the national context of the evil and mass murder in Las Vegas.
Talk about feeling rattled. I’m feeling that way.
What is a Christian to do in these times, times of overwhelming natural and unnatural death?
Should we retreat? Fear our neighbors? Abdicate to the darkness?
No. None of the above.
A Christian should do what Christians have always done in such difficult times — we affirm and celebrate the goodness of life and we affirm and celebrate the greatness of our God. And — thanks be to God! — we have lots of opportunities to do both of these things in our immediate future. Here are some important opportunities to be aware of:
A. The upcoming wakes, masses, and burials:
Remember, all the parts of a Christian funeral always celebrate two things — 1) the unique life and spirit of the deceased and 2) the joyful promises of God in Christ. This weekend, we are blessed with two funerals of two former parishioners who requested to be celebrated here, in their primary faith community. We are also invited to join with a current parishioner in the funeral services for her mom.
1. The first are Bill Greene’s funeral services. Bill will have a wake tomorrow, Friday, October 6, at Clark Funeral Home, 2104 Saw Mill River Rd, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598 from 2:00-4:00 pm & 7:00-9:00 pm. His funeral mass is this Saturday, October 7, at 9 am here at Good Shepherd. There is a burial service immediately afterwards at Rose Hill Cemetery, 101 Mill St, Putnam Valley, NY 10579. Your prayers and presence are requested for all these services.
2. Sheila McCluskey’s funeral shall also take place this Saturday, September 7th, at Good Shepherd at 11 am. There will be an internment of her ashes immediately afterwards in our Memorial Garden, followed by a reception in our Parish Hall. Your prayers and presence are requested for all her services.
3. Jan Corning’s mother, Mary Ann Vlymen, shall have a funeral mass at Our Lady of Sorrows Roman Catholic Church in White Plains on Saturday, October 21st at 10 am. There is an internment at Calgary Cemetery immediately following with a luncheon afterwards (details to follow). Your prayers and presence are requested for any part of her services.
B. Other Opportunities to Celebrate Life & God Together:
1. As a gift from the Holy Spirit (which is how I truly see it), we have an unexpected baptism to celebrate this Sunday at 10 am for a young family of four who are not (yet) members of our parish but who called us and asked if I/we would baptize their beautiful newborn daughter, Ariana. The answer, of course, was yes. I’ve met with this lovely family and I’m excited about them joining us Sunday (and hopefully beyond). In baptism, we ritually celebrate that we die and rise with Christ. We also renew our own baptismal vows, including the vow that we reject Satan (the symbolic personification of evil) and all his ways. What a perfect weekend to baptize, after so much natural and unnatural death!
2. This Sunday, we shall also have the Blessing of the Animals at noon in church. Bring your pets to church! Bring friends, too. This is a friendly, short prayer service that culminates with the blessing of the pets and their frolicking on the front lawn after the service. If you know any family, friends, or neighbors that are feeling down as a result of national events, invite them to church on Sunday and/or to this service. It warms the heart and soul. Come yourself, even if you don’t have pets. It’s a riot watching the pets in church and afterwards on the front lawn.
3. Finally, we have lots of great opportunities in October to gather and enjoy being community together: our Fall Fundraiser/Arts Jam on Saturday, October 14 (see and share the attached flyer); our wine glass painting party on Friday, October 20; our First Annual Classic Car show (free admission with over 50 classic cars. Come check them out!); and more. Click here for the September – December 2017 Calendar of Events flyer we have been distributing at church to discover even more opportunities for celebrating and enjoying life together.
Be a good friend. The entire country is feeling rattled by recent weather and social events. Connecting with others through positive social events is good for everyone’s mental and spiritual heath. Bring a friend that’s feeling down to any of our events to help them reaffirm their sense of goodness in life and people. It’s one of the best gifts you can give to those you care about.
So — this has been a doozy of a week. And, unfortunately, there will be others like it in our future because that’s part of the human condition. Life is hard. But we are not in it alone. We have each other and we have God. And those are two HUGE resources that make all the difference!
Find comfort in the words of Jesus we say at the end of the funeral mass in the blessing: “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33)
Thanks be to God!
Your brother in creation and in Christ,