“God of the Living”
In nearly every church I visited during my sabbatical in southern Europe this past spring, I saw paintings, murals and statues of saints. Some of the pieces of art were over a thousand years old, reminding me that Christians have been honoring those who have gone before us for a very, very long time! Remembering and honoring loved ones and legends keep us connected to our past and grounded in the present.
On Sunday, we read from Luke 20 that God “is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.” Jesus said this to the Sadducees after mentioning Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection or the afterlife, so they asked Jesus about some of his beliefs in the particulars of heaven. Jesus’ response to them makes me think that those who die never leave us completely. Their spirits and memories remain. It also makes me think that Jesus wanted his followers to focus on the here and now. Even as we carry our beloved ones with us in our memories—and perhaps even in our conversations—when we live in the present with a firm faith that God is with us at every moment and with every breath we take, we can actually help to answer Jesus’ prayer, “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”
I closed my message by reading a poem written by Jan Richardson—a gifted artist, poet, author and minister—as she approached All Saints Day (November 1) after her husband Gay died:
It is hard being wedded to the dead;
they make different claims,
offer comforts that do not feel comfortable at the first.
They do not let you remain numb.
Neither do they allow you to languish forever in your grief.
They will safeguard your sorrow
but will not permit that it should become your home.
They knew you first in joy, in delight,
and thought they will be patient when you travel by other roads,
it is here that they will wait for you,
here they can best be found
where the river runs deep with gladness,
the water over each stone singing each unforgotten name.
May this day bring you life in all its fullness, even as you embrace those who remain with us only in memory and in spirit.
“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by Koloa Union Church, an Open & Affirming (ONA) congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.
To see a video of Kahu Akana’s message, click HERE. You may see the Koloa Union Church YouTube channel to see many of his past messages and subscribe in order be notified when a new message is posted. Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. Please feel free to “Like” any of the videos you see and share them on social media, such as Facebook, so that others will notice them.
You are welcome to join us on Sunday mornings! To see our Sunday morning schedule, click HERE.
Kahu Akana is also an accomplished artist! He specializes in creating vibrant watercolors of the flowers of Hawaii and hosts a Sunday afternoon reception in a gallery at his home, the Smith Memorial Parsonage. He also meets visitors by appointment. Most of the profit from the sales go for the maintenance and upkeep of the parsonage. To see a video about his art and gallery, click HERE. To see the gallery website, click HERE.
To learn more about Kahu Akana (and the rest of the staff at Koloa Union Church), click HERE.