I have a tattoo of wheat on the back of my right arm. Two stalks that appear to be waving in the wind, thanks to the detail of a skilled tattoo artist.
My first versions of the design included the text when it dies, it bears much fruit, drawn from Jesus words in John 12. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
These past three seasons of Lent have led me deeper into a reflection on death than any year before. I have grown more and more grateful that the church enters into a time together to process death and to grieve. In a few short weeks, we will sing boldly Oh death where is your sting. Oh grave, where is your victory. But for right now, the sting of death is real. Its pain must be grieved for its defeat to hold any meaning.
Every time I bake, I am reminded that death is necessary for resurrection. The tartness of sourdough a sharp reminder that when wheat, or dough, or beloved friends die, by God’s mercy they bear much fruit.
Today, I grieve more deeply than most. I grieve the loss of a friend who I promised to love far more than I was actually able. I grieve a relationship never reconciled. I grieve the limitedness of my human capacity to fix or to forgive. I grieve the deep divisions of the Church that won’t be mended until Christ’s final return, and I grieve for the individuals who suffer most within the chasms.
Today, I am grateful for a time to process death.
I look forward to eleven days from now when I will sing with tears streaming down my face Oh death, where is your sting. Oh grave, where is your victory.
But I pray that as I bake today, I will be reminded of her laughter, her love, and her fruit.
Today as you bake, I ask that you would pray for me and for the hundreds of folks around the world who were touched by our friend Emma. Pray that as we grieve the third anniversary of her death, we will be reminded of the freedom, life, and healing she’s found singing at Christ’s feet.