“April is the cruelist month”
These are the opening words to T.S. Eliot’s 1921 poem “The Waste Land.” Decades later, these words carry double meaning for the people in Oklahoma City, Columbine High School, and Virginia Tech University.
You can add New Braunfels, TX to that list. The First Baptist Church and a broken community are grieving the loss of 13 friends who were killed in their church bus while coming home from a choir retreat. This Sunday, and Easter in particular, will take on a more significant meaning for them.
Eliot’s words have contributed to my understanding of what loss means. It isn’t a subject that many of us are comfortable talking about, yet none of us are immune to its impact on our lives. Loss affects us on a personal as well as community level.
I’ve lost count of the number of funerals I’ve presided over or attended at this church, but a safe estimate is 125. It’s hard for any congregation not to be impacted by the kinds and frequency of losses that accumulate over the decades.
Sometimes we get busy and forget what kind of result this change can have in our church. Fortunately, there are signs of new life with baby dedications, graduations, and other celebrations. The church is a living organism in which we can share the joys and sorrows of life, together.
As we make our way through the Lenten season, let’s take time to slow down and realize the losses we’ve experienced. The season leading up to Easter lends itself to recalling memories of our loved ones. It’s not easy working through the hurt and pain associated with these moments in our lives, yet over time and with the help of God and others we can learn through them.
I am convinced that it is better to go through life together than by oneself. Our church has so much to be grateful for, and in light of the recent tragedy in Texas, let’s spend a little more time showing appreciation for each other. Each Sunday should be a celebration of life in Christ, and shared life with each other.
Yes, April can be a cruel month in regard to these terrible losses. Yet, it also brings about a season of remembering the suffering of Jesus and his tremendous sacrifice on the cross for our sins. We can be assured of his presence with us, even when and especially when we don’t understand the reason behind events like the ones that occurred in April through the years.