Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Facing Death with Life: A Program for Adults

Activity 1: Discussion of Readings

Activity time: 15 minutes

Share this quote from Forrest Church’s sermon "Love and Death":

When death or dying comes calling at the door, like a bracing wind it clears our being of pettiness. It connects us to others. More alert to life’s fragility, we reawaken to life’s preciousness. To be fully human is to care, and attending to death prompts the most eloquent form of caring imaginable…

Adversity doesn’t always bring out the best in people. But the reason it so often does is because adversity forces us to work within tightly drawn limits. Everything within those limits is heightened. We receive as gifts things we tend to take for granted. For a brief, blessed time, what matters to us most really does matter.

Yet, how do we respond, when we get a terminal sentence? Far too often with, “What did I do to deserve this?”

“Nothing.” The answer is, “Nothing.” Against unimaginable odds, we have been given something that we didn’t deserve at all, the gift of life, with death as our birthright.

Unless we armor our hearts, we cannot protect ourselves from loss. We can only protect ourselves from the death of love. Yet without love, nothing matters. Break your life into a million pieces and ask yourself what of any real value might endure after you are gone. The pieces that remain will each carry love’s signature. Without love, we are left only with the aching hollow of regret, that haunting emptiness where love might have been.

Ask for comments and observations from the materials participants were asked to read. Ask:

  • What resonated from the sermon or the articles?
  • What thoughts, hopes, and fears you have about death were expressed in one of the readings?
  • What thoughts, hopes, and fears do you have that were not expressed?

Capture participants’ comments on newsprint.