Several years ago I had the privilege of leading a Celebration of Life service for someone that I knew only for a brief amount of time. In planning for the service the family shared with me that they wanted a time of “open sharing.” They wanted to open up the service so that others there could share a story about how their loved one had impacted their lives.
As we planned I shared my hesitation and tried to influence them differently.
Over the past 23 years I’ve been a part of several hundreds of Celebration of Life Services.
Sometimes during times of open sharing people with grudges shared cutting remarks and made the family uncomfortable.
Other times there was just complete silence. The grief in the sacred space was too heavy for people to feel “prompted” to stand and share memories.
Once a guy stood up, started talking, then popped open a beer and put the rest on the altar table in the sanctuary.
But – at the end of the day, Celebration of Life Services are about what the family wants and needs, not my desires. So open sharing was included in the service.
It was life-changing for many.
Person after person stood and shared how this person had impacted their life’s journey.
What made the difference?
He had no need to be flashy. He wasn’t trying to make a name for himself or have grandiose gestures.
He lived a life marked by great consistency of love and generosity.
He lived offering love, acceptance, grace, and compassion to all people repeatedly. He didn’t just offer love to someone once and then walk away.
Over his final weeks of life his home was a steady stream of people coming to share what a difference he’d been.
Anyone can do something nice for someone once.
And certainly nice things don’t go unnoticed or unappreciated.
But . . . if one act of kindness makes a difference, imagine what happens when those acts of kindness happen with consistency.
We NEVER know where others (both strangers and our friends) are in their journeys. Daring to be consistent offers God’s love in real, tangible ways.
Remember, we may be the only Christ others see.
Psalm 40:2 Common English Bible (CEB)
He lifted me out of the pit of death,
out of the mud and filth,
and set my feet on solid rock.
He steadied my legs.