The Invisible String

Less than a week ago we celebrated the life of my mother-in-law after her unexpected death. Our grief is made less only in knowing she lived a good life filled with the richness of family and faith and in dying she went without pain or suffering to be with our Savior in Heaven. Even still, this will be the first Mother’s Day we will celebrate without her here with us. The pain and grief are real. This is a story many endure on the second Sunday in May. As others gear up to celebrate, many struggle with deep grief and heartache for the death of a mother or child this Mother’s Day. For them, we pray.

There are no easy answers to offer in the wake of death and loss. There is some measure of comfort to be found in knowing we never walk alone through these struggles because God is always with us. We find throughout the Bible an active, always present God who genuinely seeks to be in relationship with us. In Matthew, Jesus promises to be with us until the end of time. He also promised to send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit to guide us and be with us. In the wake of such human loss and pain as the death of a mother or child, may we know God is with us.

Though comforting, such an abstract idea can be very difficult for children to grasp, especially young kids who are such concrete thinkers. Whenever I am with a child who is struggling through grief, who needs the comforting word that they are not alone, I am reminded of the book The Invisible String by Patrice Karst.

In this story, told by a mother to her two children, an invisible string keeps them connected to one another no matter how far apart they find themselves. So, they are never alone. Children can imagine a string connecting two people in two different places — even a string to God. Like the invisible string, it’s the Holy Spirit who connects us to God who loves us and is with us always and forever.

And when a child — or an adult — is particularly sad for all he or she has lost to death, that string is there to tug on for a little extra comfort when it’s most needed.

Peace my friends.


Special Installment: Death of a Friend


Special Installment: Death of a Friend

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:52

Object: Sunflower seeds and picture of a Sunflower

Good morning friends. Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen a sunflower (show the picture of a sunflower)? Sunflowers are beautiful flowers. They’re very tall with bright yellow flowers. But like all flowers, eventually sunflowers die. By this time of year (or, by autumn) sunflowers have dried up and died. I’m always sad when sunflowers die because they are so beautiful and bright and make me happy.

Death is always sad. Especially when a friend dies. It’s very sad when we know we won’t see them anymore. When we won’t be able to talk or hug or laugh with them anymore. It’s okay to be sad when someone we love dies.

But you know, the story doesn’t end there. Take a look at this sunflower again. Do you see the dark center? About the time a sunflower starts to die, the center begins to change into seeds (show the children sunflower seeds). Birds, squirrels, and even people love to eat these seeds. And these seeds can be planted to grow into another beautiful sunflower. 

When someone dies who believes in Jesus Christ and knows God loves them, the story doesn’t end when they leave this earth. A change waits for us. When one of Jesus’ friends dies, we change by leaving behind this  body and going to heaven to live forever with God. Our Scripture passage tells us this happens in a twinkling of an eye (note, RSV translation).

Even though we can’t see our friend anymore on this earth, we know they have gone to heaven with Jesus. And one day, we will see them again. Just like a sunflower keeps living because of the seeds inside, when Jesus’ friends die, they go on to live with God in heaven.

Let us pray: Merciful God. We are sad that our friend died. We wish he/she was here. But we know he/she is with you in heaven. Help us find comfort in knowing this is not the end but a new beginning. Amen.

Dedicated to the memory of Jason Molitor who died suddenly on October 21. He was a loving father, faithful disciple, devoted pastor, and a friend. He will be greatly missed until we see him again.