The New Creation

Jessica Bratt Carle

Read: Revelation 21:1-14 Death shall be no more. (v. 4) It seems fitting to close our reflections on grief and loss with this passage from the book of Revelation. The portrayal of a world in which every tear has been wiped from our eyes, and where death simply is no more, might feel far off to us, even unimaginable. Death is such a stark reality in our lives here and now, and it might even feel like wishful thinking to …

Blessed Mourners

Jessica Bratt Carle

Read: Matthew 5:4 They shall be comforted. (v. 4) In the midst of the beatitudes, Jesus offers a blessing to those who mourn. They are blessed, he says, because they shall be comforted. Being in the company of those who are grieving isn’t typically a state we think of as particularly blessed; in fact we tend to have sympathy for those who mourn, and we momentarily count our own blessings, thankful that we aren’t among the newly bereaved. Grief can …

Baptized into His Death

Jessica Bratt Carle

Read: Romans 6:1-5 We will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. (v. 5) For those of us in Christian traditions where infants may receive the sacrament of baptism, the emphasis around baptism is usually on the gift of the Holy Spirit and the entrance into Christ’s body, the church. Being washed from sin and sharing in the righteousness of Christ are also highlighted. But as this passage indicates, baptism is also a sacrament that marks the …

A Light Burden

Jessica Bratt Carle

Read: Matthew 11:28-30 You will find rest for your souls. (v. 29) The word “burden” comes up a lot when illness or injury renders someone dependent on the care of others. “I don’t want to be a burden,” some will say, anxious not to cause undue strain on their loved ones’ time or finances. While these are genuine concerns, they also tend to reflect how foreign it can feel to rely so drastically on others. Most of us are used …

Incomprehensible

Jessica Bratt Carle

Read: Philippians 4:6-7 The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding. (v. 7) In my work as a chaplain, I often pray for this peace, especially with families who are anticipating the imminent death of a loved one. It acknowledges our limited human understanding. When we brace for the major shifts that are brought on by death, we can’t possibly wrap our minds around the magnitude of what is unfolding as it is happening. But this passage in Philippians gently …

Inseparable

Jessica Bratt Carle

Read: Romans 8:38-39 Neither death nor life . . . will be able to separate us from the love of God. (vv. 38-39) It’s likely that you’ve heard this passage read at a funeral or memorial service. I remember reciting it aloud in unison with more than a dozen of my cousins at the service for one of my grandfathers. In some ways it felt like our presence and our voices were living proof that death could not separate us …