Join us for our Good Grief:Bringing Light to the World Worship Series

Sundays, January 29-February 19 at 10:25 a.m.

What we will explore:

Grief is something everyone experiences. It is a normal part of life. God designed us to move through a grief process in order to protect us and learn how to make meaning out of loss. Experiences of grief help us to connect more deeply with one another. We can offer the light to the world by sharing the hope available through grief: resurrection is always possible.

Using the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, we’ll explore the stages of grief as presented by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance, Meaning Making. Through the stages of grief, we’ll discover how each stage serves the purpose of helping to move toward healing and wholeness.

If you cannot make it in person, please watch us on Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/WilliamStreetUMC/


Reverend Jennifer Casey

NOTE FROM PASTOR

January 27, 2023

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 

Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.”The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep.Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.” – John 11: 1-16 

Cultural expectations of grief don’t always line up with how God designed us to cope with loss. This can negatively impact us in profound ways, in both the short term and long term. This Sunday begins a 4-week sermon series on grief called “Good Grief.” Over the 4 weeks, we will dive into the story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead from John chapter 11. I am drawn to this story as it so beautifully illumines the depths of Jesus’ humanity and his divinity.  

Alongside the scriptural story, we will explore the stages of grief as presented by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance, and Meaning Making. Through each of the stages of grief we will discover how God designed us to cope with loss in order to move toward healing and wholeness. The grief process is incredibly rich, complex, painful, and beautiful. And, it is anything but linear. While Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief will give a frame to the sermon series, please know that everyone’s process looks different.  

This Sunday we center on denial. The story begins with Jesus hearing about Lazarus’ illness. He has been summoned by sisters Mary and Martha. The expectation is that Jesus will go to the family – to visit, to heal, to love Lazarus and his sisters. Strangely, Jesus doesn’t go right away. He waits two more days before setting out for Bethany. Why? Why didn’t Jesus go right when he was summoned? He loved Lazarus. Was it hard for Jesus to hear that his friend was ill? Did he believe it wasn’t as grave as it actually was? 

Denial as a part of the grief process doesn’t necessarily mean that you literally don’t believe the loss has occurred. Rather, denial is marked by feelings of shock or numbness. The grace in denial is that it lets in only as much as you can handle in the moment. It prevents a flood of emotions from overwhelming the psyche. Could Jesus have been in denial about the severity of Lazarus’ illness?  

When have you experienced shock or numbness? Have you said things like, “I can’t believe my loved one is gone?” Or, “I keep thinking they will walk through the door, just like they used to?” Has it ever been hard to wrap your brain around a newly diagnosed illness or shocking situation? If so, this was your response to news you weren’t quite ready to completely handle. In time, shock and numbness begins to wear off and other emotions will present themselves. All of this is a part of the God-designed, healing process of grief.   


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