All Souls’ Sunday/Totenfest

A while ago, I heard a song by Death Cab for Cutie on the radio. If you’re wondering about the name of the band, it’s from the song “Death Cab for Cutie” by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band (don’t ask). The song is called “Gold Rush,” and it’s about a man watching his neighborhood change and thinking about losing all of the places that he and his former lover used to go. But it has this line that’s resonating with me as we move into fall:

It seems I never stopped losing you.

Just before my first Sunday as your pastor, I lost my dad to dementia.

That’s not quite true. I spend years losing my dad to that disease. I watched as I visited him and he recognized me a little less each time. I started hoping that my mom wouldn’t say to him, as we entered the room, “Your son Chris is here to see you,” just so I could see if he still knew who I was. And, by the end, before he was sleeping all the time, I think he might have known that he was supposed to know me, even if he couldn’t quite place me. I spent years losing my dad to that disease… and I suppose he spent years losing me to it, too.

But the fact that his death was the end of a process doesn’t make it any less real. Anyone who has lost a loved one to dementia knows that.

And that’s true for all of us. Every death is a process. In the days and months and years following a death, the world changes and the living hold on to memories. We never quite stop losing the people who we love. They are no longer with us, but they are still with us.

One of the ways that Christians mark the long process of saying goodbye is through Allhallowtide, a set of holidays that includes Halloween on October 31st, All Saints’ Day on November 1st, and All Souls’ Day on November 2nd. Since the United Church of Christ is the result of a merger between English-speaking churches and German-speaking churches, we sometimes celebrate Totensonntag (Sunday of the Dead) or Totenfest.

At First Congregational United Church of Christ, we’ll mark All Souls’ Day/Totenfest on Sunday, November 4. While we will have a moment for the recognition of all of the people who have gone to glory before us, we will also have a time to recognize specific people who have passed. If you have someone who you would like to have recognized, please submit their name to the church office by Sunday, October 28th.

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