Be Not Afraid, part three

The change of seasons is a beautiful aspect about life. Each season has its joys and its difficulties. We are nearing the end of winter, a season that is beautiful, but cruel. The snow sparkles and glitters beneath the sun, but it also bites with coldness. The ice coats trees with a transparent layer, but it is dangerous. Between Tuesday and Wednesday morning, ice formed on the trees and the houses and the cars and the schoolbuses. Schools closed and many people stayed inside, afraid of the dangers of the ice on the driveways and the roads.

Venturing out became more difficult for many, especially the elderly, who fear risking injury in a fall. It was also difficult to remove the hardened layer of ice from car windows and mirrors. Fortunately, the sun shone and melted much of the ice. Because of that, I was able to go to the third Lenten luncheon with my friend, Betty, who will soon celebrate her 93rd birthday.

The inside of Trinity United Methodist Church was warm and inviting. The host for this week’s Lenten luncheon was Saint Martin-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church. They provided chef salad, sloppy joes, chips, and pastries. A group of people brought the pastries so that people at every table had a variety of goodies on a large platter. My contribution was oatmeal cookies, flavored with craisins and white chocolate chips, which I baked on Wednesday morning.

Inside, we had what we do not yet have outside: the soft pastels of springtime. We grow weary of winter and of darkness and of coldness. 

Soon our corner of the earth will come back to life. We’ll see the early flowers pop through the snow. They represent the resiliency of life, despite the fear of death.

Before long, the buds on the trees will swell until they can swell no more and will burst open to reveal baby leaves, soft and translucent, more like flowers than leaves.

Humans, too, add color and brightness to their world. This is a necklace being sold in the SERVV store at Trinity United Methodist Church. The jewelry and other items are all fair trade crafts. The craftspeople get 100 percent of the money that was spent on the products.

The beauty of spring and of the creations of human hands reminds us of the joys of life. Unfortunately, for people, as for all living creatures, life does not last forever.

The Rev. Canon Earle King addressed the issue of fearing death. He told the story of Jesus’ disciples,who were terrified as they traveled in a boat during a storm. The boat filled with water, and the disciples feared that it would sink. They woke up Jesus, who was napping, and told him, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Jesus told the wind and the raging water to calm down, and he asked his disciples, “Where is your faith?” 

Father Earle said that people feel fear in the face of death. There is a concept that people cannot look upon God and live, which causes people to be even more afraid. Under such circumstances, faith becomes challenging. “Christians should not fear death,” Father Earle said.

“We are afraid to consider our own death.”

Father Earle shared some helpful pointers for people to prepare for their own death. 

  • Get a will or let New York State decide how your goods are to be distributed. Make sure that the will is kept updated and make sure that is not kept in a lockbox, which is sealed when you pass away. If you’d like to leave money to a church, talk to the pastor of that church about making a bequest.
  • Look into a power of attorney. Keep your beneficiaries up to date. “Your loved ones who survive you will be thrilled,” Father Earle said.
  • Get a health care proxy. This designates someone to be your agent.
  • Look into MOLST. That stands for Medical Orders for Life-sustaining treatments. You will need to discuss this with your doctor. It applies if you are seriously ill and are likely to pass away within a year. This must be signed by a doctor.
  • Look into a living will. A living will is a document that lets people state their wishes for end-of-life care, in the event that they become unable to communicate their decisions. 
  • Tell your family that you want to be an organ donor. This is more important than just signing your driver’s license. In addition, you can donate your body to the medical school at the State University of New York at Buffalo, through the school’s anatomical gift program. After you pass away, your body goes to the university. Six weeks later, your body will be cremated, and your ashes will be given to your family.
  • Make decisions on what will happen after you pass away. You could make decisions about burial, cremation, and the funeral service. Having a cemetery plot before you pass away “is a hedge against inflation.” For survivors, knowing their family member’s preferences is a big help. ” Planning in advance means that “you can consider all options without the stress of grief and urgency.”
  • Make sure that your digital information is available to family members in the event of your death. This would include passwords to the computer and email accounts.
Next week: Saint Timothy Lutheran Church will sponsor the Lenten luncheon.

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