Lectionary Year B
August 10, 2003

II Samuel 18:5-9, 15, 31-33
Contemporary Address

Step VI - Contemporary Address

A. Goals

(JFC) David's grieving might lead us into identifying some therapeutic ways of grieving deaths in our lifetimes, ways of grieving healthily and/or unhealthily.

B. Describing the Audience

(JFC) This exposition might do well for a funeral setting, especially if the funeral = memorial service comes after interment..

C. Address

(JFC) A sermon, entitled for this working draft, "Grieving"

Absalom died. So did (name of the deceased). So did Jesus. God raised Him from the grave. God has done the same for (name of the deceased). We celebrate his/her resurrection. We also grieve his/her passing. King David did that, too.

I. Family Love
A. To grieve effectively, love is needed. David loved his momentarily estranged son, Absalom, unconditionally, God's kind of love.

B. We love our friends and family members, even and perhaps especially when they die. And, we can love them unconditionally in life, through death and on into eternity.

II. Death is Real
A. Absalom died. It's an historical fact.

B. Every human dies. Lord Palmerston (1784-1865), English politician, prime minister, was attributed to say, "Die, my dear doctor! That's the last thing I shall do!" We might well imagine the doctor saying, "Yes, sir, yes you shall." We all shall die. No question.

III. Causes of Death
A. Causes of death vary. List some local causes of some locally recognizable citizens, congregants, etc. And, causes of hoping to get through grieving deaths differ, too. King David continued to grieve Absalom's death AND he continued to rule as wisely and a justly as he could. He apparently let God continue to rule through him, like Paul suggested in I Corinthians 3:6, for example. He also acknowledged and praised God for having made him "a great king whom God loved and whom God told him what to say" at the last (II Samuel 23).

B. David lived through his grieving Absalom's death and prospered in his major tasks of leading God's people as God's chosen King. Causes of death are far less important than who dies and how we mourn their deaths. We grieve effectively when we realize what's important and what's tangential about deaths we experience. We live through grief by serving God's called purposes. We are never alone as we live, as we grieve, as we serve.

Henri Nouwen writes in Our Greatest Gift, "A good death is a death in solidarity with others. To prepare ourselves for a good death, we must develop or deepen this sense of solidarity. If we live toward death as toward an event that separates us from people death cannot be other than a sad and sorrowful event. But if we grow in our awareness that our mortality, more than anything else, will lead us into solidarity with others, then death cannot become a celebration of our unity with the human race. Instead of separating us from others; instead of being sorrowful, it can give rise to new joy; instead of simply ending life, it can begin something new." Absalom had separated himself from David who had no choice but to grieve accordingly and extensively. Some thought David over indulged in grieving. They then rejoined David with his troops and people, we can hope, in solidarity to be developed and deepened. Some might think we, too, grieve with exaggeration. We know when and how most effectively we grieve aright for ourselves in this stage of our faith development. We are surrounded by this present great cloud of witnesses who show us solidarity undeniably.

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