by Heidi Regier Kreider, WDC Conference Minister

This year, yesterday’s Memorial Day holiday fell on the anniversary of my father’s death.  To observe the day, my mother and I went out to the cemetery to place fresh flowers at his grave, which is marked with the words, “Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God” (from Micah 6:8). We spent some moments in reflection and prayer, and then walked around the cemetery, sharing memories and stories of other persons memorialized there: Relatives, neighbors, friends, and names of those unknown to us.  We pondered how each person had a role in their community during their lifetime, and how this “cloud of witnesses” continues to shape the lives of people living today.

I have attended memorial services in a variety of different WDC congregations. I am grateful for the ways that congregations gather and tell the stories of those who have died, helping us to understand the meaning of their lives and legacy for the next generation. In times of death, congregations share lament, compassion, hospitality and care for one another as they walk together through grief or loss.  The community of faith honestly names and accepts the sober reality of death, yet also proclaims faith, hope, and the good news of life in Christ. This is part of the missional work and witness of the church.

As we remember those who have died, and ponder the meaning of our own lives, I invite us to consider Hebrews 12:1 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”

As followers of Jesus, may we each leave a faithful legacy as we do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God.