On the last Sunday of 1999, I preached a sermon called TEOTWAWKI (pronouced TAY-o-ta-WAH-ki) – The End of the World As We Know It. Of course, the world didn’t change that much, any more than the world as we know it will end tomorrow with the Mayan calendar. But tomorrow – being the longest night of the year – reminds us that the world as we know it changes forever when great loss occurs. The longest night is followed by the commencement of increasingly longer days and – Lord – we need more light.
There are several memorable events that have changed my world forever:
- The day I met HH in Warrensburg, NY – my future family began
- The day my mother died of cancer – my family of origin would never be whole again
- The day HH and I moved to Northern Virginia – where we would meet the best friends of our lives and raise our children
- The day my Grandmother died – no more Saturday morning phone calls
- The day FBC left for college – our family dynamics were changed forever
Some of our losses are minor in a cosmic way and some blast a hole through our gut. I cannot imagine the staggering changes in the lives of families whose loved ones die from violence. Here is a story from a member of Fourth Presbyterian Church about her own experience and it gives us a glimpse of the despair. But we cannot know unless we’ve been through it.
God, please don’t let any more of us go through it.
This is a good day to remember in prayer all those who have lost a family member, a best friend, a home to natural disaster, a part of their own body, their dignity through unemployment or financial despair. As the snow promises to fall in Chicago today, it’s an especially good day to pray for those whose worlds – as they knew it – ended in 2013.
Image from candlelight vigil in memory of Sandy Hook Elementary School principal Dawn Hochsprung.