But I, O Lord, cry out to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
O Lord, why do you cast me off?
Why do you hide your face from me?
Wretched and close to death from my youth up,
I suffer your terrors; I am desperate.
Your wrath has swept over me;
your dread assaults destroy me.
They surround me like a flood all day long;
from all sides they close in on me.
You have caused friend and neighbour to shun me;
my companions are in darkness. (Psalm 88:13-18)
Barely a week ago our Caretaker and Groundskeeper, Wallace Demarais, with his wife Bernice, discovered to their despair that their son Justin had died suddenly, unexpectedly, tragically, violently. I cannot imagine how they must feel. Horrible, terrible, to lose a child in any way, but I think the only thing worse would be to have your child taken from you like Justin was suddenly taken from Bernice and Wallace.
The words of Psalm 88 sound right here, since everything is so terrifyingly wrong about this situation. It is the only Psalm that ends in darkness, with no word of praise to God at the end, unlike the sorrow/grief/anger expressed in other Psalms which end with a word of hope.
But it’s there, this dark and heartbreaking Psalm, because God knows that’s how we feel sometimes. In Christ, God is present in our deepest darkness, our most horrifying sadness. You see, God’s own Son was violently snatched away, in blood and horror and lonely death. In Christ, through Christ, God understands.
Finally, in Christ, through Christ, the darkness can be overcome. But it doesn’t just happen. God works through us, through family, through friends. Healing happens as we are patient, gentle, accepting, loving, whenever, however, it is needed. And that’s happening, here at St. John’s, which doesn’t surprise me, and for which I am immensely thankful to God.
Thank you, one and all in this parish, who reached out in many ways to Wallace and Bernice and their family and friends, along with the women from Kildonan United Church, and other friends from The Anglican Parish of St. Francis. Thanks, everyone, for helping with the service on Friday for Justin, in taking care of the place while Wallace is where he needs to be, for all you have done and all you will do in the days/weeks/months ahead to minister to this family in their terrible hurt.
God can heal; our loving Creator reaches out in grace and mercy and peace to give life even to a heart that seems dead with grief.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:5)
And Justin? We know J.D. is healed and whole forever, forgiven as we are, made new as we will be one day, reunited with all the ancestors who have gone before him, shining now with the Lord Jesus Christ in the light and love of God the Creator, forever.
Thanks be to God!