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Christ Pres Mid-Week Update 4/29, with a Word about Grief

Dear Christ Pres Family,
We have just a couple of announcements this week, but first, a word about grief.  We’re all in different stages of grieving at this time, grieving the things we wish we could do but can’t, the people we wish we could see, the jobs lost, the sense of control and safety we used to have, the regularly scheduled events on our calendars we are missing, the plans we had made for this year, the regular gathering for worship and celebrating the Lord’s Supper, and so much more.  We pass through the “stages” of grief at different rates, and really they are not a linear progression.  We pass from one to another before going back again.  Sometimes we skip one altogether or add an extra.  We’re all grieving, but we experience it differently.
The good news is, no matter how you are handling your grief, there is One Comforter for us in our grief: the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).  He is able to do so because He understands affliction and joins us in it.  We’ve talked a lot about how Jesus has done this by becoming a man and suffering through more than any of us is suffering so that He can relate to us, but God has always understood our pain and entered into it for our good.  One of my favorite verses in times of grief is Isaiah 63:9, which says of the God of suffering people, “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.”  He doesn’t leave us to suffer alone.  He suffers with us, and in doing so lifts us up to suffer well.
C. S. Lewis illustrates this truth beautifully in The Magician’s Nephew To set the scene: the boy Digory, who is upset about his mother’s terminal illness, has introduced evil into a beautiful, perfect new world that Aslan, who represents Jesus, has just created, dooming it to a horrible fate.  As Aslan turns to address Digory in light of his sin, we read this exchange:
     “Son of Adam,” said Aslan. “Are you ready to undo the wrong that you have done to my sweet country of Narnia on the very day of its birth?” 
     "Well, I don't see what I can do," said Digory. "You see, the Queen ran away and —”
     “I asked, are you ready?” said the Lion. 
     “Yes,” said Digory. He had had for a second some wild idea of saying “I'll try to help you if you'll promise to help my Mother,” but he realised in time that the Lion was not at all the sort of person one could try to make bargains with. But when he had said “Yes,” he thought of his Mother, and he thought of the great hopes he had had, and how they were all dying away, and a lump came in his throat and tears in his eyes, and he blurted out: 
     “But please, please — won't you — can't you give me something that will cure Mother?” Up till then he had been looking at the Lion's great feet and the huge claws on them; now, in his despair, he looked up at its face. What he saw surprised him as much as anything in his whole life. For the tawny face was bent down near his own and (wonder of wonders) great shining tears stood in the Lion's eyes. They were such big, bright tears compared with Digory's own that for a moment he felt as if the Lion must really be sorrier about his Mother than he was himself. 
     “My son, my son,” said Aslan. “I know. Grief is great. Only you and I in this land know that yet. Let us be good to one another….” 
     “Yes, sir,” said Digory. He didn't know how it was to be done but he felt quite sure now that he would be able to do it. The Lion drew a deep breath, stooped its head even lower and gave him a Lion's kiss. And at once Digory felt that new strength and courage had gone into him.
We’re all grieving in different ways at this time, but Lewis reminds us of the truth revealed in God’s Word, that wherever we are in our grief, there is One who sympathizes with us, One to whom we can bring all of our grief and find understanding, empathy, and, eventually, a supernatural strength to endure.  It doesn’t always come as quickly as it did to Digory, but the Holy Spirit isn’t called the Comforter for nothing.  He will not leave us but will surely live up to His name.  Then we can be blessed to live out the second half of 2 Corinthians 1:4, comforting others with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Here are this week’s public opportunities to support one another and be supported where we are:
1)    Community Group Thursday, April 30 at 7:30 PM via Zoom, contact us for the link.
2)    Ladies’ Bake Along over Zoom this weekend (Friday or Saturday evening, depending on interest/availability).  If you are interested in learning how to bake a Sweet Potato Cake from Erin, let her know you’d love to join!
3)    Virtual Worship via Zoom this Sunday.  I’ll send out the link for that, along with a copy of the bulletin, on Saturday, so look for it in your email or at christgrovecity.org.
As always, if you are not receiving these updates directly and would like to be added to the email list, you can email me at pastor@christgrovecity.org, and I will add you.  Also, continue to let me know how I can be lifting you up in prayer during this time.  I will always pray for you and would gladly pray with you (virtually, for now).
In Him,
Pastor Jonathan
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