On October thirty-first, 1517, Martin Luther posted 95 theses on the Castle Church’s door at Wittenberg, Germany, to voice his concern and objection to some of the church’s practices. He chose the day because the faithful would be attending church the following day and see what he had written.
November first is when the church celebrates All Saints’ Day, which is when my story starts. When I woke up on November first, I grabbed the coffee mug appropriate to the day. It was a mug adorned with a picture of Martin Luther’s wife, Katarina von Bora Luther. It seemed a worthy choice.
When my Mom was born, she was called Katie and named Kathryn after Martin Luther’s wife, Katarina von Bora Luther. So, thinking of my dear Mom, who died more than a decade ago, it cheered me to drink my morning coffee in a mug portraying her namesake. I didn’t have a lot of time to dawdle over breakfast, but I managed a few cups of coffee before heading out to church.
When I was getting ready for church, I thought I would wear my Grandmother’s gold cross necklace. I think my Grandpa bought her the necklace. I am cheered whenever I look at it because my Mother was no biblical or theological slouch. Her Father, a Lutheran Pastor, made sure she studied the Bible and theology. My Grandmother let her baby daughter cut her teeth on that cross necklace. There is a pretty floral pattern on the front of the cross, and on the back are tiny dents where my dear Mom did her teething. My Mother, both literally, and figurately, cut her teeth on the cross. How fitting is that?
This morning, I was to play for worship. I chose prelude and postlude music, and on Saturday went over to practice the pipe organ. Unfortunately, I discovered that the organ had many ciphers — notes that were stuck and sounded without anyone pressing them. So I ended up having to play the piano for worship.
I was initially quite pleased to be playing for this service because it has always struck me as a festive day — the saints of God. The redeemed, gone home to the Lord. The hymns were very familiar, and as I played, I read the words that the congregation was singing. But then the words hit too close to home. Thinking of my husband, who died earlier this year, it felt as if the flood gates opened. As I played, the tears began streaming down my face while I followed the words of the hymns.
I don’t know how other people experience grief. With me, it often seems as if a sunny and happy day can turn on a dime. That is what happened as I played for worship this last All Saints’ Sunday.
Thinking about this some days after the fact, I would like to add something that my Dad wrote in a letter to my Mom, which you can read about in an earlier blog post here: When the River Won’t Flow: A Decision Born of Grief
I often pray that God will grant me many more years on this earth, as there are some promises I would like to have time to fulfill and so that I may watch my grandchildren grow up. That being said, God’s time is different than our time. So let me echo my Dad’s words to my dear Mom.
To my Lord Ron: the parting shall not be long.
You are my beloved,
and I shall stand arm in arm with you
before the THRONE ITSELF.