Pastor's Occasional Blog
At a person's death, the church shares the grief of those who mourn and remembers the brevity of life on earth. At the funeral we give voice to sorrow, thank God for our loved one, and entrust this companion of ours into the hands of God. Trusting in God's promise in baptism that we are claimed by Christ forever, we rest in the sure hope of the resurrection. When the church gathers to mark the end of life, Christ crucified and risen is the witness of worship, the strength of mutual consolation, and the hope of healing.
These words introduce the funeral service in our worship book. I was reading them today because the funeral mass for former Archbishop Rembert Weakland will be held later this afternoon at St. John's Cathedral.
There are protests regarding his funeral, for he was a church leader who regularly reassigned priests who were child sex abusers. He misused the power of his office and caused harm to many vulnerable people.
Peter Isely, the program director of Nate's Mission, a clergy sex abuse survivor's group, says of Rembert Weakland, “He had no mercy on us (survivor's) whatsoever.”
No mercy. Let's imagine that is true. If it is, do we want God to have no mercy too?
I speak as a survivor of child sex abuse. I know the desire for vengeance. I know the desire for truth. I know the pain of hearing my abuser described in glowing terms at their funeral.
Still, I long for and hope for something better from God.
A funeral in the Christian tradition, to me, is one in which Jesus is praised for his amazing love—through death and beyond. It is not a celebration of the merits of the one who has died, but a celebration of the love of God which finds a way when it seems there is no way.
At former Archbishop Rembert Weakland's funeral, I pray that what will be proclaimed is a God who has mercy on us even when we do not have mercy on one another.
I pray that lies will not be spoken that further harm his victims. I pray that their (and my) journey of healing continues throughout the brevity of life on earth.
The grief felt today will not only be experienced by those who loved Rembert Weakland. It will also be experienced by those who were harmed by his actions.
When the church gathers to mark the end of life, Christ crucified and risen is the witness of worship, the strength of mutual consolation, and the hope of healing.
I hope for healing. I hope for a heart open to mercy. I trust in a God whose mercy far exceeds my own.
Your imperfect, beloved sister in Christ,
The Rev. Dr. Mary Ubuntu is the spiritual leader of Resurrection Lutheran Church and has served in that capacity since 2003. More on Pastor Mary can be found HERE.