“Daddy, “dead” means “died”.” My 4 year old was talking to me from the back seat of our mini-van. She’d just internalized a basic truth about the end of life, and was repeating it back to me. She said it confidently, but still with a slight question mark waiting for me to confirm what she’d said. So why was our 4 year old talking to me about such a weighty topic?
The girls had helped me get the candles out for youth group this past week. They asked me what it was all for, and I told them I’d explain after evening services. So as we gathered in the minivan after church and kids programming, I explained.
“Tonight I invited the teenagers to come and light a candle. They would each light a candle for someone they wanted to remember, who had died and gone to be with Jesus. We talked about the people we loved, who were not with us anymore because they were with God now.”
It’s true. For our monthly scheduled “prayer experiment” this month, I offered our teens almost an entire night where we gathered chairs in a circle, and just remembered together. Some chose to remain quiet, but obviously reflecting on someone meaningful. Others may have been bored off their rockers, but at least they were respectful of the moment. But several chose to step out and light a candle, and share with us a memory of someone who’d made an impact on their life. I’d been nervous and not known what to expect…but felt God was smiling on the idea. (probably even gave it) We thanked God for these people, and closed in prayer that someday, someone might remember us as having made an impact on their life for God.
The good news is…I was way ahead of schedule. We’ve got an “All Hallows Eve” party next week with pumpkin carving and what-not. So you’ve still got plenty of time to ask the people/youth group/children in your life: “Who is someone you’d like to remember, who’s gone to be with God?”
For my kids….it was Grandpa Nicol. They knew his smiles, his laugh, and how much he loved baseball. Then, they went through a short list of relatives they haven’t seen in a while….and I confirmed they weren’t dead yet. 🙂 Here are a few words that might make you thankful for someone…