Fellowship of Saints and Sinners

Fellowship of Saints and Sinners


Praying for Dead People?

And what the dead had no speech for, when living
They can tell you, being dead: the communication
Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond with the language of the living. —T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets

Last night at dinner we prayed for those who died in the tornadoes here in the South and for their families and loved ones.

Which is when our son asked one of those burning Reformation-era questions: “Can you pray for dead people?”

“I think so,” I said, not blinking—with all deference to the sixteenth-century church reformer, Martin Luther, whose camp I’m in on most things and who was probably turning over in his grave.

“I think so, too,” my husband said between bites of leftover meatloaf.

Sure, Jesus had once issued that weird directive about letting the dead take care of the dead. But that was in the context of a summons to follow Him, when following Him might conflict with familial obligations to care for the dead. (You can check out my post on this weird Jesus saying.) Sitting-around-the-dinner-table prayer, by contrast, didn’t preclude praying for those who have died, I reasoned. Besides, if there really is life beyond the grave, then the state of those who have gone before us matters, especially to their loved ones, not to mention God. And, if Love is stronger than death, then Love doesn’t respect even the seemingly permanent boundaries placed upon Her by death. Come to think of it, as a hospice chaplain I often hear grieving relatives share how they on occasion hear things or catch messages sent from their loved ones even after their loved ones’ death.

So there we were, praying for the dead over our cauliflower cheese and meatloaf, and I, secretly grateful for kids who ask the questions we often don’t think to ask and to which our own answers may surprise us.

 

 



Previous Posts

The Lie of Invulnerability
This last week has been insane. Family sickness, repairs, car issues, multiple calls from school nurses, including one in which the nurse expressed concern my 7-year-old son had been bitten by a brown recluse spider...and just when I thought it couldn't get worse...viral pinkeye. Two puffy, leaky, r

posted 11:00:49am Sep. 09, 2014 | read full post »

Humor Relief for Religious Extremism
Once again, humor and satire are coming to my aid this morning, this time in response to the twisted and evil extensions of religion that seeks to coerce and control with violence and worldly forms of power (best embodied these days in the form of ISIS and its affiliates). The Palestinian televis

posted 10:36:57am Sep. 03, 2014 | read full post »

"AA" Recovery Groups—Spirituality for the Non-Religious, Hope for the Church?
[caption id="attachment_5326" align="alignleft" width="271"] Bill Wilson co-founded Alcoholics Anonymous with Dr. Bob Smith in 1935. Their affectionately called "Big Book" is one of the best-selling books of all time, having sold more than 30 million copies since its publication. (Photo credit: Haze

posted 11:27:26am Sep. 02, 2014 | read full post »

Thoughtful Christians—They're Around, Via Fare Forward
The cover story from the latest (July/August) issue of Christianity Today offers a refreshing antidote to all the gloom and doom that often accom

posted 2:39:15am Aug. 27, 2014 | read full post »

New Job, New Book
You may have noticed that I've not shown up at this intersection during the last week or so.  A new job, and, with the new job, the promise of a new book projec

posted 2:49:05am Aug. 25, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.