Most of us have experienced something like this: We celebrate with one friend who just had a baby while we grieve with another whose sister just died. Often grief and joy flow together in the same event: We remember with laughter and tears when a parent dies. Life is complicated.
I have noticed that some people try to reduce the complexity by turning a funeral into a “celebration of life”. Not a bad idea—there is much to celebrate, especially if the death is not too premature and if the loved one was someone we genuinely do celebrate. But I feel some discomfort. Grief and joy flow together, and we can’t—indeed should not—try to remove either one. Life is too complicated for that.
So we are celebrating a summer wedding. The time for planning is short, and the level of frustration grows as plans are made quickly and at a distance; but with the frustration runs a current of joy and celebration. At the same time we walk with the couple whose relationship is ending, not made less bitter because of a new relationship starting somewhere else. Life is complicated.
Good Friday is around the corner: “Sorrow and love flow mingled down”. Both joy and grief flow together as the shadows grow deeper, only to be dispelled by the light breaking in through the great resurrection of Jesus. Life is complicated; but a simple truth remains—that joy is stronger than grief, and love is stronger than hate, and life is greater than death. Always. (Even though death comes first.)