Happy New Year and welcome back! I don't know about you, but the new year started on a somber note for me as it did for a number of folks within the LCA family. By now, I am sure you are aware of the various tragedies that hit our community during the Christmas break, including the unexpected deaths of a father of two students, the newborn child of a staff member, the brother of a teacher, the sister-in-law of a staff member, and the father of a staff member. And these losses were proceeded by the deaths of two sisters of teachers in addition to the passing of a number of parents, grandparents and other family members. Our heartfelt sympathies go out to all those who have recently suffered the loss of loved ones.
How does a covenant community like Legacy respond to these tragedies and deal with the grief that follows? Well, first, we grieve alongside those who have suffered loss. We reach out to them, visit them, pray for and with them, and prepare meals for them. We interrupt our personal agendas and make ourselves available to meet whatever needs they have. As one who has suffered the loss of a close family member, what comforted me most was the fact that others grieved with me. Grief is an expression of love. Grief is appropriate. Jesus wept when He learned of the death of Lazarus.
Secondly, we serve. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly our community responds to tragic news. Within hours, Care Calendars were established and the community responded to provide meals, transportation, and other physical needs. Scripture teaches us that the church (all those who know Jesus as their savior) is the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27). Through these tragedies, I witnessed the Legacy community transformed into the body of Christ by becoming the hands, feet, arms, and mouth of Jesus.
Finally, we remember. We remember and remind ourselves and others why Jesus came into this world in the first place: not to make bad people good, but to make dead people alive. We reflect on Jesus's prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, hours before His crucifixion, when He fervently prayed, “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). You see in this heartfelt prayer that Jesus's ultimate desire is that His sheep would join Him in heaven, bask in His glory, and be reunited in fellowship with other believers. For those of us who know Jesus, our grief is different from the world's. We remember that our grief is temporary. Our grief is tempered by the hope that is within us and the promise of eternal life secured at our salvation.
I close with an excerpt from the John Piper's “Desiring God” devotional for January 2, 2017.
When you lose a loved one in the Lord to the Lord, you have indeed lost–at least for now. But that brother or sister has gained, and so has Jesus. We may shed enough tears to fill buckets, but those streams of tears running down our cheeks will glisten with joy when we realize that our loved one's death is nothing less than an answer to Jesus's prayer. The death of a dear loved one in the Lord may present one of the greatest tests of our faith. But can we trust that our loved one is better off with the Beloved? Will we believe that the Son of God is reaping the fruit of His work for sinners? If we do, then our grief is godly grief, and Jesus will turn our sorrow into great joy (John 16;20). “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15), and it can be for us too when we cling to the hope that death will never win (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). Jesus grieved himself so that we will never have to endure hopeless grief in the face of death. In the end, death is just an answer to Jesus's prayer.
Grace and Peace,
Head of School