Laying Roses

My church has gone through a series of tragedies lately.  As of last Thursday, we’ve hosted six separate memorial services for different people in our community, all of whom were dearly loved, most all of whom died before their time.  In response, we’ve decided to postpone our planned service programming and simply meet Together for three Sundays and pray, worship, and love one another.  Our worship will be unplugged and in-the-round, and we will have a lot of opportunities to touch one another, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

In the midst of this, I am reminded that God is the God of our sorrow as well as the God of our joy.  The Bible models a lot of worship that is cast in sorrow, including many of the Psalms, the book of Lamentations, and other passages.  We also know that Jesus was a man of sorrows (Isaiah 53), well acquainted with grief Himself.  And so, in order to properly reflect the condition of our souls before God, we will worship in the shadow of longing, sadness, neediness, and ultimately, our certain hope.

I was reflecting upon this succession of memorial services, and I was so profoundly moved by the testimonies of those who grieved our losses.  Our dear friends who have passed lived lives fully immersed in God’s grace, loving and caring for those around them.  In their own ways, they each made a marked and eternal difference in the lives of many people.  It was inspiring, as well as humbling, as I heard testimony after testimony, funeral after funeral, of those who shared the stories of God in the midst of it all.  My only regret the departed couldn’t hear these testimonies with us.

In response, a friend of mine shared a story of an older man he knows.  This gentleman, also well acquainted with grief, was known for being complimentary to everyone, encouraging and speaking truth to all around him. When asked about why he was so supportive and cheery, he explained that he had laid down roses on the coffins of many friends over the years.  And he realized that he wanted to spend the rest of his life laying roses on the people who were still living.

I’ve found myself thanking people a lot more lately.  I’m making room in the cracks of my life to voice my appreciation to others.  I’m being more purposeful in speaking words of encouragement.  And I’m also taking the time to just stop and be thankful to God for my friends.

Laying roses.  Sounds like a good way to live.

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4 thoughts on “Laying Roses

  1. Eloquently written, as usual, Man…I loved the service today and I, too, have been impacted in a deep way by not only these losses but other losses. Some of these losses are personal, but nonetheless, I have also made space for more gratitude. In fact, I purchased REAL stationary to write thank you notes to those whom I love and appreciate. I’ve sent a couple and intend on sending more. It’s so easy to grumble, but when we consider that we could be gone, gratitude abounds!

  2. Excellent! I have told my family that I don’t want flowers on my grave, that they are to give them to those in nursing homes and hospitals…people who don’t normally get flowers…the sick and the lonely. I won’t need flowers…I’ll be looking at Someone more beautiful.

    Great idea to appreciate those around us. From the local cashier to the guy who does the sound. From the pastor who might normally hear much complaining and not so much gratitude to the young person who lives next door. Thanksgiving is coming up…maybe we can make it a month of giving thanks to those around us…Who knows it might just become a habit!

  3. This feels like entering a holy place, trying to be quiet so as not to disturb anyone already here. Thank you for allowing a guest to leave a comment. After reading just a few comments I am blessed by people of faith and belief in Jesus as our rock whether in joy or sorrow. I am encouraged as the time is nearing that I & my husband must move away, leave our church that we love, where we have found healing and wholeness in Jesus; and here among strangers, I see that in the family of faith there are no strangers. And as for “laying of roses” – what a wonderful way to live! Thank you.

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