As I sat in the unexpected spot of a funeral for the tragic death of a sixteen year old in the community of Orrick last week, I heard that the young people have one thing in common. I serve a small, rural congregation in Orrick, Missouri. The school district is the lifeline of the community. On Friday nights in the fall, everyone is at the football stadium. They are a community who are standing together in the midst of tragedy right now. The microphone was turned over for testimony. And as young persons shared over and over about the young man’s life and how he had affected them, I kept hearing the same thing. Whether they knew Aaron as their date for prom, lab partner in biology or fellow band member, I heard one theme in their questions of grieving. “Now that Aaron is gone from our lives, I am confused about where I belong.”
Grief makes us wonder what might be coming next. Grief makes us afraid. Grief is a normal human response. Grief, by the grace of God, will help us come to faith. In the Gospel of John we find many stories of grief after Jesus has been crucified. This week, in relation to the tragic death in the community I serve, I have been thinking about the story of Thomas. Often we want to say that Thomas doubts the existence of God and we want to blame him for such a thing. I wonder if we would blame the young people we work with for doubting the existence of God when they are grieving. Jesus shows Thomas what he needs to see and grants him peace. I pray we will also sit with our young people when changes and grief are present. I pray we will listen and provide. God be with each of us. Amen.
by Emily Carroll
youTheology Mentor Coordinator
Loving God, Loving Neighbor