Remembrance Sunday – Rev. Kristin Grassel Schmidt

Ritual of Remembrance – Rev. Kristin Grassel Schmidt  

On this day of memory and gratitude, we remember the many whose love and nurture has helped us grow into who we are today. With thanksgiving, we remember our religious ancestors, whose courage, hard work, faithfulness, and sacrifice gifted us with this free faith, our sacred sanctuary and grounds, and this beloved community of which we are now a part. As we mourn those who have passed from this life and into Eternity, let us also praise the miracle and mystery that gave them to us in the first place. 

In this season when the nights grow nearly as long as the days,

When the earth achieves a balance of dark and light,

It is said that the barriers between this world and the next,

Between what is and what has been,

Are thinner.

As the earth hangs in this balance,

we remember those who have died,

Our beloved dead whose names we honor on our quilts,

And those whose names are embroidered forever on our hearts.

As the earth hangs in this balance,

Our hearts travel to the Isle of Apples,

To commune with our beloved dead

Perhaps to say those things which we were not able to say before they died,

Or to listen for those things they were never able to tell us in life.

As the earth hangs in this balance,

We welcome the presence, the memories, and the love of those who have died.

May this most simple ritual of images and song remind us of the great mystery of life and death that connects us to all that ever has been to all that ever shall be.

Reflection – Rev. Kristin

Life is a gift.

Life is a blessing.

Along with liberty and the pursuit of happiness, life is an unalienable right.

We wish others long lives and many of us wish long lives for ourselves.

But our culture doesn’t encourage us to dwell on all that goes into every human life. The labor, the attention, the love, the resources. 

How many plants and animals will I consume in the whole of my life?

How many paper towels will I use? How much detergent, how many cars, pairs of jeans, eyeglasses and contact lenses will I use in the whole of my life? How many people did it take to make and sell me all of those things?

How many people were involved in my birth? From my birth mother to my foster parents, social workers, and even the judge who presided over my adoption, how many people made it possible for me to reach my beloved parents? 

How many teachers, administrators, coaches, friends, enemies, therapists, doctors, midwives, relatives, ancestors have been involved in my life, have made it possible for me to become who I am, have brought me to this very moment? How many life forms and products, legacies and ancestors and friends have brought you to this very moment in your life?

So when we hear the news that 219k people have died of COVID-19 in the United States, 

that 1.11 million have died worldwide, 

when we hear about people of color being murdered by police officers, 

people dying for lack of adequate medical care,

when we see the graves of ancestors on tribal lands across this country and beloved sacred burial grounds like Moses African Cemetery here in our own state of Maryland,

when people we know and love die, 

we must remember just how much labor and love, sustenance and caring went into each and every one of those people,

we must remember how blessed each of their memories is.

we must remember just how interwoven they were and are with our lives,

and the lives of all those who will come after us.

Remembrance Sunday is a day to remember those we have loved and lost, those ancestors whose lives generations ago made ours possible, but it is also a day to remember the people no one remembers by name. It is a day to reflect on the totality, the immensity of all that is lost when each human life ends, and all that is carried forward in those who live on. 

It is also a day to remember that this life we share right here and now will one day end. Today is a day to pause and consider whether we are using the limited lives we have been given in the ways we know we should, in the ways we feel called to. How does knowing we will one day die inspire us to live in the days we have left? How are you called to contribute to the great symphony of life, justice, kindness, beauty, and legacy? 

Blessed Spirit of my life, give me strength through stress and strife;

help me live with dignity; let me know serenity.

Fill me with a vision, clear our minds of fear and confusion.

When my thoughts flow restlessly, let peace find a home in me.

Spirit of great mystery, hear the still, small voice in me.

Help us live our wordless creed as I comfort those in need.

Fill us with compassion, be the source of our intuition.

Then, when life is done for us, let love be our legacy.

May it be so, and may we make it so. Amen.