It was my first “Remembrance Ceremony” and I was not looking forward to it. It’s been almost a year since our beloved brother Kavi Sridhar Scott Pudu suddenly left us. So we came together to remember him and other loved ones that have passed on recently…friends like Tim Cunningham, Sam Howard, and others.
I rarely put myself in a situation in which I have to intentionally deal with the emotions that come with grief…and definitely not at church. Grief has always been a reaction to tragedy and loss. It’s been something I have always tried to avoid. So no, I didn’t feel like going to Midweek Service last night at The Path Church. I was nervous and anxious. I didn’t know what to expect. But I’m glad I went.
Our society does not know how to grieve. We jump to celebrating the life without mourning the loss. And then when we do mourn, we mourn by ourselves…at least that’s what I do. I wait until my family has left the house or I’m alone in the car. That’s when I can finally confront the issues of the heart and cry out to God. Or I don’t deal with it at all and in an effort to escape, I end up acting out against God. So, yes I’m glad I went.
If church is always supposed to be a happy place for happy people (in the superficial sense) then what happens when we don’t feel happy? What happens when we are sad? Broken? Hopeless? Lonely? Depressed? Hurt? Angry? Ashamed? What happens is…we stay home. We go into seclusion where these feelings only get worse. As I read the scriptures, I am intrigued by the Jewish traditions in regards to grief. They made it a public affair. They wailed out loud, tore their clothes and sat in ashes. They embraced an outward expression of the pain they felt on the inside…and they did it TOGETHER. That’s why I’m glad I went.
It was an opportunity for the Church to be a safe space where we could express any and all of our emotion without the fear of judgement. It was an opportunity to be proactive about suffering…to deal with the grief that we have pushed to the side, forgotten about, or compartmentalized. It was an opportunity to be on the offensive as opposed to only being reactionary…emotional slaves to the master of circumstance and chaos. Not only am I glad I went, I was blessed by the process.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) I always understood this scripture in the future tense…as in the comfort I will receive when I get to heaven. But what I experienced last night was the blessing of being comforted through the love of God expressed by the body of Christ and made possible by the Holy Spirit. Boy, am I glad I went!
I sat on the aisle seat of the second row. As Alice D. Mullins welcomed us, I thanked God for using her to bring healing. As Jamell Sowell and Tina Renee’ sang “O Come to the Altar,” I worshiped the Father who welcomes us with open arms. As Quay Manuel, Ed Jackson II and others read our messages to those we have lost, I felt grateful for the gift of relationships and the people who have made a profound impact in our lives. As people like Ashley Altiana Council, Elijah Rock, and Misty Herron shared their personal stories, I thought about how unique and healthy this gathering was.
As scripture was proclaimed, I found peace. As prayer was lifted up, I was reminded of the incredible hope of heaven. And when we said, “Amen,” I hugged my friends a little longer and a little tighter. I expressed my love and gratitude for them. I reminded them of how much Kavi loved them and how much of a blessing they have been in my life. There were tears and smiles, sighs and laughter, pain and joy. We were, after all, happy…because we were TOGETHER. There lies the irony. I’m so glad I went.
Lead Pastor, The Path Church