A week and a half ago, I gathered with a several friends to hold a communion and blessing service for my friend Michelle. Michelle had stage 4 breast cancer and had been told earlier in the week that there was nothing more to be done, that she could no longer handle the chemo treatments. I wanted the church to recognize the holy that is in the death process. Since Michelle was still processing the news that she was on hospice and would not receive any further treatment, I intentionally avoided direct references to death (except in songs — they may have been a bit more direct). Michelle was being transferred to another part of the state where family lived, so references to sending out refer to the trip she would be making away from us. Michelle died a week later. She had turned 28 a month before her death.
Here is the service we held:
Hymn – “The King of Love My Shepherd Is”
One: Even before we call on Your name to ask you, O God
Many: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
One: When we seek for the words to glorify You, You hear our prayer
Many: My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.
One: Even with darkness sealing us in, we breathe Your name
Many: Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.
One: And through all the days that follow so fast, we trust in You
Many: Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
All : Unceasing love, surpassing all we know; endless your grace, beyond all mortal dream.
(Adapted from Pilgrim’s Hymn – Michael Dennis Browne, Matthew 11: 28-30, 2 Corinthians 12:9, John 14:27, Romans 8:35)
Sharing of the Bread and Cup
Blessing and Sending – All
Hymn – “Be Still My Soul”
“And now, O God, give me a quiet mind, as I lie down to rest. Dwell in my thoughts until sleep overtake me. Let me rejoice in the knowledge that, whether awake or asleep, I am still with Thee. Let me not be fretted by any anxiety over the lesser interests of life. Let no troubled dreams disturb me, so that I may awake refreshed and ready for the tasks of another day. And to Thy Name by all the glory. Amen.”