Yesterday I was reading through the notifications on my phone which I usually do, and swiping away the useless ones which are usually a lot, and I noticed some Twitter notifications. One came from a prominent Lutheran pastor from the States announcing the death of Rachael Held Evans.
If you haven’t heard of Rachael Held Evans before (or RHE as she is commonly known as on the internet), she is a progressive Christian author, blogger, and speaker. She has a strong voice for equal rights and inclusiveness. She is a wife, a mother, and a supporter of social justice and equality. And she passed away yesterday morning from complications that stemmed from antibiotics that she took to treat a flu.
It doesn’t seem to make any sense.
I never met the woman, but I wept. I only know her through her writing, and yet I still mourned. I don’t even think I know what her voice sounded like, but yet her voice has influenced me and who I am as a pastor enough to shed tears over the news of her passing.
I am in need of comfort.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” We need these words to be true most especially at times of loss and grief. There is a reason why this is a popular reading at funerals. Because at times of loss and grief (usually around death), we forget sometimes that God is our Good Shepherd, and that we will again know peace.
So while I mourn the loss of a woman whom I’ve never met but respect greatly, I rest in the fact that God is good, and that comfort will surely be granted to all of us. Jesus says in the gospel lesson that his sheep know his voice, that they recognise him even when they can’t see him, and they learn to follow. I don’t think that the knowing and recognising Jesus’ voice is instinctual, but it becomes natural as the relationship grows and strengthens.
May we hear, listen to, and follow the voice of Christ even in our darkest and scariest times, that we might recognise God present, active, and working in all the messiness of life.
Have a great week, everyone.