by Revs. Don Dewey and Susan Gonzales Dewey
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
Our predecessor Don Shelton used to write a column called Dawn Breakers, and it was about things he learned along the way that “dawned” on him. This last weekend, our congregation in Las Vegas held a memorial service for Rev. Steve Willis, their pastor, who died in a tragic accident on July 30th, 2018. It was an emotional weekend for his wife, his family and his congregation and I want to share some of the things that “dawned” on us over the last month.
The Pension Fund is our friend. If you work for the church in any way you are eligible to join the pension fund they not only provide a pension for church pastors and employees, but they stand ready to help out in time of tragedy and difficulty.
Keep your paperwork up to date. If anything changes in your life setting make sure your pension fund papers and insurance and other legal documents are up to date. We all tend to feel immortal and do not want to think about our death but it will come, and almost always before we are ready, and sometimes it comes way to early.
You might never know how many people you have touched and how deeply. Yes the sanctuary in Las Vegas was full even all the extra chairs, with family, congregation members, chaplain colleagues, and at least one young man who felt the Steve had been such an important part of his life growing up that he came from San Diego to just be with other people who loved Steve. On your worst day, remember that when you love people it impacts their lives in ways far beyond your understanding.
Grief takes many forms and it takes as long as it takes for people to move to the new place in their lives. Some respond with anger and some just have to keep busy and some just fall apart and some just carry sorrow along with them.
It is important to just stand with those who grieve. It might be at the service, yes it matters who shows up. It might be in the many days after and just be prepared to listen. Even when we know the one we love is in the arms of our loving God, our loss that they are not here to love us is still so painful and takes time to heal.
Wilderness isn’t always a bad place to be. After a loved one is gone it often feels like we are in wilderness, alone and lost, but wilderness can also be a place to hear and see new things, and a place to listen for Gods voice and Gods calling.
It is important to take time to laugh and to love while we are here. This is the only day we have. And if God gives us a new day, give thinks.
Together on the journey,
Don and Susan
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