Dear Friends in Christ,
A little while ago, a friend sent me an article about “Swedish death cleaning.” It described the custom in Sweden to clean out one’s belongings with increasing vigilance over time with the intention not to leave a burden on loved ones. We have laughed about it in my part Swedish family, where very little is ever cleaned out or thrown away.
I am glad of the laughter, because it is a back door into talk about death and the preparations we all must make.
Our culture is enthralled with youth and health, and it tells us that death is the enemy. And yet, as Christians, we know that we do not need to fear death. Indeed, Francis of Assisi wrote of “sister death,” who would lead us back home to God.
In Easter season especially, we have the power to face death unafraid. And—in the process—to take responsibility for those plans which will make the lives of those all around us better after we have died.
This Sunday, our seminarian Durango Jenkins will be hosting a funeral planning luncheon immediately after the 10:30 service in the Merrow Hall Auditorium. Bring a dish to share (although you’re still welcome if you decide to come unprepared at the last minute). Plan to spend about an hour together talking about lessons and singing hymns. You’ll leave with a form full of your funeral plans and one important task accomplished. (Some things that are insurmountable alone are made joyful by community.)
If you can’t make it this Sunday, there are plenty of other ways to prepare. You can complete a form on your own. (And you don’t have to be old to do this—in fact, if you have a will, which most people who have children do, you should also have a funeral plan.) The clergy are glad to meet with you and help you prepare. We can think with you not only about liturgy but also about all the legacies you want to leave—material and spiritual—with the people, communities, and institutions you love.
This is hard work. But it is also joyful work, because it is rooted in our trust of God.
Yours in Christ,