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Facing Death Through Faith

This is a hard week.

People are having to tell their children, and their children's children, that long-time member Fran McKewen died.

As I listen to people talk, it sometimes sounds like she took care of half the children in New Castle County. She cared for a lot of children over the decades. She cared for multiple generations of children. She remembered "her children" even decades after they had left her care.

I know she had a tremendous impact on the children and their parents.

Some have referred to Fran as their baby sitter.

More often they have said that Fran helped raise their children.

And without fail, people have said that their children/grandchildren adored Fran.

I didn't know Fran in that way, but I can understand it. She had a way with children. No raised voices. No angry scowls. But children always knew exactly how to act when they were around her. She clearly loved them. They clearly loved her. She was obviously a positive and loving influence on them.

And this week we're having to tell our children, and our children's children that Fran is no longer with us.

Studies say that the age of children affects how they deal with and understand death. Preschool children, the age that Fran largely dealt with, see death as reversible, temporary, impersonal. As they grow older they begin to understand that death is permanent, but that it won't happen to them. Only as they approach adolescence do children begin to understand that death is final, and that it will happen to them.

How do you tell your child of six that this woman she has known her whole life, who has been such an influence on her life, is gone, forever?

How do you tell your child of 26 that this woman she has known her whole life, who has been such an influence on her life, is gone, forever?

We deal with the same questions, no matter our age.

Now is when we gather together as the people of God, and let our faith be our guide and strength. We gather to mourn her death, but more importantly to celebrate her life and her impact on generations of children.

We listen to our children's questions, and answer them within the context of our faith. The faith that says that we don't need to fear death, because Christ came before us. The faith that says that death may be a final step for our physical body, but it is only the beginning of our life in eternity with God.

When we were baptized in Christ Jesus,

we were baptized into his death.

We were buried therefore with him

by baptism into death,

so that as Christ was raised from the dead

by the glory of the Father,

we too might live a new life.

For if we have been united with him

in a death like his,

we shall certainly be united

with him in a resurrection like his

- (Thanksgiving for Baptism from ELW funeral service)

- Ann Warner

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