“Even though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, I will fear no evil. For thou art with me..Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” Psalm 23:4
Death. It’s not an easy thing to talk about. And it’s hard to find the right thing to say to people, who know they will never see their loved ones on this earth again.
But since I came to work here nine months ago, I’ve gotten a unique perspective to see how the pastors here at Good Shepherd provide comfort to people facing death in their lives. And this week, I saw three widely different situations where all four of our ministers helped people do just that.
On Wednesday afternoon, Pastor Dara presided over a memorial service for Dorothy Kaestner, a long-time member who passed away Sunday at the age of 89. (Pastor Sheryl helped set things up before she left on a well-deserved vacation.) A group of about 50 got to hear the Good News Pr. Dara was able to bring the family. She got to tell them that thanks to Jesus, Dorothy’s death is not the end.
Earlier that day, Pr. Chris delivered that same message to a group of people he had just met a couple of days before. A friend of a member at Good Shepherd had approached that member whether our church had a pastor available for a graveside burial service on Wednesday. They went to a different Lutheran church in town, but their church had no one that could officiate the ceremony.
So, Pastor Chris met with the family earlier in the week, then got to deliver the comforting words of Psalm 23 to the family at the gravesite. The service was held in a pouring rainstorm, in conditions that didn’t make people want to hope. But they heard about the Lord being their Shepherd, thanks to a minister from Good Shepherd, who believed they needed to hear about that Good News while they buried their loved one.
But you didn’t have to be a member of Good Shepherd to be comforted by the Good News. Last Friday, a resident from our neighborhood stopped by the office. She said a friend of hers had given birth to twins 6 weeks ago, but one of the twins didn’t make it. They wanted to hold a funeral in a church, but they didn’t have a lot of money, and they were having a hard time finding a place where they could do it.
Pastor Joe helped give this family the support they needed. We were able to figure out a way to let the family hold their funeral here at Good Shepherd Friday, thanks to some grants paid for by members here at church.
All three funerals made me proud to work here at Good Shepherd this week, and witness our pastors address the needs of both members and the community. Most members don’t get a chance to witness that firsthand, or even realize some of things that go on here behind the scenes.
Knowing I have pastors willing to help me the next time I must deal with death won’t necessarily take away the sting that comes from losing a loved one. But this week, I saw my pastors (and co-workers) preach a message of hope to people that needed it. And that gives me hope they can help me cope, the next time I must walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.