What could be next?

An entire life can change in a moment, and certain moments can change an entire culture. I would guess that almost everyone in this room remembers where they were when they heard that planes had crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Many of us remember the news, and the stunned silence of the days following.

Most of you know that I worked at an Episcopal church just across Lafayette Park from the White House before I moved to St. Louis. I came to St. John’s 10 years after the attacks, but when I was there, the staff and community were still talking about the days that followed. Particularly, they remembered the first service that St. John’s was allowed to hold afterward. Being that close to the White House meant that, for security reasons, no one was allowed into the church for several days. The blocks and office buildings all around the White House were cordoned off. 9/11 was Tuesday, people returned to work on Friday.

St. John’s holds a daily Eucharist at 12:10 for the folks who work in downtown DC. On a regular weekday there are 10 or 15 people in attendance. On Friday September 14, 2001 something like 1,000 people came to pray. The church only seats 800 or so, so people were seated in the aisles, and crowded round the outside doors.

I’m not sure what the text was preached that day, but our reading from Jeremiah would have fit well. As I noted last week, in the English language we use the word “jeremiad” to describe a long lamenting scolding speech. After our reading today, you can understand why. “A hot wind” comes after God’s “poor people.” The destruction that Jeremiah foretells may seem familiar to us. The quaking of the earth, the desolation of cities, this text could have been preached on that September day 15 years ago.

In the midst of Jeremiah’s awful speech, one line holds out a candle of hope for us. “The whole land will be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.” Yet I will not make a full end.

The task of prophets is often misunderstood. We tend to think of prophets as holy prognosticators, sooth-sayers. We imagine prophets predicting the future for kings. But that’s a slippery slope, and we might think they could tell young maidens when their prince (or princess) will arrive. We can misunderstand the prophets as God’s fortune tellers. Then we read their words and we think of them as really grumpy fortune tellers. But that was not exactly their role.

Jeremiah didn’t need a crystal ball to see what was ahead for Israel. Josiah the king was full of himself. Josiah was the head of a small kingdom, and he was the kind of guy who liked to poke the bear, politically speaking. Babylon was a growing empire to the North. Jeremiah had a sense something could go terribly wrong.

The task of prophets has two parts, the first is to unsettle a society. The prophets tell us, “Don’t get too comfortable.” Something is amiss. The prophets call people back to God’s law, back to justice and mercy. The prophets point out the uncomfortable hypocrisies of their day. Unsurprisingly, the prophets often don’t fare well.

But the prophets have another task, besides pointing out the nation’s sins. Prophets help us to imagine what could be next. That is the role of prophecy in Judaism and Christianity. Prophecy helps us imagine another way of living. Prophecy helps us move from lament toward rebuilding. Prophets help us imagine what could be next.

The whole land will be a desolation; yet I will not make a full end.

That Friday 15 years ago, life started to move back to normal patterns. And people were hungry for the prophetic transition. We went back to work, or to school, but I can remember several conversations with my friends and neighbors in the weeks that followed and they all centered around the same question. As we realized we hadn’t reached “a full end.” As we moved into this new reality, we were all asking: what will be different? I have a hunch that’s why all those people showed up for church. We were ready to get back to work, but we had a sense that something had to be different.

15 years later, I wonder what is different. We’ve tightened airport security. We’ve fought wars. We’ve survived more terrorist attacks. I wonder if we have yet fully let go of 9/11, if we’ve been able to step back a little from the edge. Tempers still seem to simmer, and racism seems to be on the rise since those days.

But is that all that is different? What can be different? I’m not sure, even fifteen years later, that we’ve fully answered the question. I hope we haven’t yet fully answered the question. Because I think it will take us generations to live into what “could be” next. After the desolation, what can we rebuild?

There’s a story coming out of North Dakota this week that is giving me a great deal of hope. A protest over an oil pipeline crossing ancestral Lakota lands might not seem a long way from threats of terrorism coming from the Middle East, but scratch the surface even just a little and you see questions in Middle East policy are bound tightly to questions about oil. The conflicts we encounter involving religion and race are also tied to questions of resources.

Over the past several weeks diverse Native Americans from across the continent have been gathering with the people of the Standing Rock reservation to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, a pipeline that would start in North Dakota and pass between St. Louis and Springfield, before terminating in Central Illinois. Some of these tribes hold ancient grudges against one another. There were wars between Native Americans long before European settlers arrived, but this week the tribes have come together in support of Standing Rock. People are describing the camp as peaceful, hopeful, and fun. They are sharing food and good conversation. In a tense moment, some protestors were detained because the police thought they were talking about pipe bombs. Turns out they were getting out peace pipes. You can’t make this stuff up.

And the Native Americans have been joined by other young activists from around the country and around the world. Black Lives Matter organizers from St. Louis are up there in North Dakota right now. In their statement, they made a connection between drinking water in North Dakota and the lead contamination in Flint Michigan, which overwhelming affects black families.

Historically the sites for environmentally hazardous projects have often been located in the backyards of people of color and in the lands of Native Americans. The Standing Rock lawsuit asks why the pipeline was moved away from its originally proposed site closer to Bismarck, the capital city, which is 92% white. Native Americans have seen mining and pipeline projects pollute water for generations. Years ago the Native writer and politician Wynona Laduke asked:

“Someone needs to explain to me why wanting clean drinking water makes you an activist, and why proposing to destroy water with chemical warfare doesn’t make a corporation a terrorist.”

She points out a difficult truth about the world that we live in. We are, all of us, culpable. We are literally invested, most of us, in oil companies, in polluters. Elementary school teachers and librarians, through their pension plans, own stock in weapons manufacturers. For the past few months we’ve been saying a confession here at church, unfortunately we’re not saying it today because we just changed the liturgy, but we’ve been saying it for months: “We repent of the evil that enslaves us: the evil we have done, and the evil done on our behalf.”

In 2016 “The evil done on our behalf” covers some mighty big bases. Our lives are caught up in deeply rooted and wide reaching systemic injustices. In response we could try and totally isolate ourselves from the system. We could go off the grid. We could ride bikes all the way to North Dakota, to avoid using fossil fuel, and we could try and live off the land. Well, you can do that. I don’t do well in the cold. Ask Ellis.

If we are going to choose to live in the culture, we have at least two ways of going about our lives. We can keep our heads down, consuming what we are told to consume, and not asking questions. Or, we can become critical consumers. We can ask questions about where a product came from, who raised our food. What were they paid? How are our choices affecting both the people and the planet? We can supplement our consumption by growing some of our own vegetables, or by buying them directly from a farmer. We may not be able to stop a pipeline entirely, but we can ask, “does it have to come so close to my neighbor’s drinking water?”

Back in 1977, in his book “The Unsettling of America,” Wendell Barry, the poet/farmer, and cultural critic, asked:

How could we divorce ourselves completely and yet responsibly from the technologies and powers that are destroying our planet? The answer is not yet thinkable, and it will not be thinkable for some time—even though there are now groups and families and persons everywhere in the country who have begun the labor of thinking it.

I don’t know a better description of prophecy, to begin the labor of thinking the not yet thinkable, to begin the work of imagining the not yet imaginable.

One day our future will look incredibly different. I believe gatherings like Standing Rock should give us hope. When we can cross racial lines, religious lines, ethnic lines. When we can break bread together and laugh together, and protest together we begin that important labor of imagining the not yet imagine-able.

That is the real scandal at the heart of the Gospel this morning. The world around Jesus, represented by the Pharisees, can’t understand why he would break the taboos. Why would he cross the cultural lines? Why would he share his table with sinners?

As usual, Jesus tells a story to engage his opponents’ imaginations. God isn’t counting who is in and who is out, Jesus says. God is out on the road, looking for the lost sheep. God is too busy searching for the lost to notice these differences you obsess about. God is busy finding those who feel unloved, who feel alone. Those who you count out, God celebrates.

Fifteen years ago felt like desolation. Yet it was not a full end. Sometimes in life we all face moments that change us. We all face those times that irrevocably change our reality. Usually we can’t change the circumstances. It is the job of our faith, the job of the prophets, to help us to ask: “what can be next?”

For now, they announced Friday, the Department of Justice has halted the pipeline. Celebration broke out in the camp. I pray that our response can be as joyful, as faithful, and as hopeful as the protests up on Standing Rock. Though we may not yet be able to think of an answer. Though we may not yet be able to fully imagine our future, we can begin. We can ask, hopefully, prophetically, “what can be next?”

Love in the Time of Distraction

In Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ novel, “Love in the Time of Cholera,” two central characters fall in love in the first pages. The young Florentino and Fermina carry out an ill-advised romance. When her father finds out, Fermina is rushed away to live with family in another city. But Florentino writes to the young girl, and their relationship continues.

At one point in the romance, the young Florentino proposes marriage. Fermina, hesitant, asks for more time. Florentino sends passionate letter after passionate letter asking for her answer. Finally she responds, with a note scribbled on a scrap of paper from a school notebook: “Very well, I will marry you if you promise not to make me eat eggplant.”

In the novel Florentino is the hopeless and hapless romantic. Fermina ends up a pragmatist, so much so that she does not marry Florentino, but instead chooses a young doctor. She doesn’t feel the same passionate love as Florentino, at least not at the degree he feels the burn. So she chooses Dr. Urbino and knows her future will be secure. Plus, her father approves.

This balance of the romantic and the practical features strongly in our Gospel text this morning. Mary and Martha, the two sisters with very different viewpoints. Some of you heard me preach a sermon earlier this year, where I wondered exactly how Mary was different. If Mary was alive today, would we diagnose her? Would we say she was on the autism spectrum? Or had a learning difference? Textually, I’m not sure you’d be far off in exploring that possibility.

If so, it makes Jesus’ words this morning radical. If Mary was intellectually different, it would also make his decision to take her side pretty characteristic, pretty Jesus-y. This was the guy who told adults to act like children. He ate with outcasts. He spent time with lepers. He told the people to take care of the poor. Jesus conspired with women. It seems very in character for Jesus to tell a disciple that her intellectually different sibling has chosen the better part. Jesus points us to unexpected teachers.

I have to confess, I do feel quite a bit for Martha in this story. We do a lot of hosting at our house, which both Ellis and I love to do. But I know well that the last moments of meal preparation, after the guests have arrived, can be a stressful time. My inner Christian feminist wants Jesus to stand up and continue the conversation as he helps Martha and Mary in the kitchen.

This morning, though, I want to take a slightly different tack. The traditional interpretation of Mary and Martha is allegorical. The sisters are taken as representative characters who stand for different ways of approaching Jesus and the world.

Jesus is invited into the house of Martha, the sister of his friend Lazarus. Martha busies herself with preparations. Mary sits at Jesus’ feet. She listens to his words. Martha, not listening, barges in and tells Jesus to reprimand Mary. Make her help me, she demands. Jesus responds, “you are distracted by your many tasks. Mary has chosen well.”

Now, there is a danger in an allegorical interpretation. We could try and simplify this reading and say simply, “Be like Mary, not like Martha.” You need more contemplation and less action. Prayer is what Jesus wants, not work. That’s tempting, especially in summer when we try and keep church and sermons a little shorter. Unfortunately it’s not that simple.

I think the allegory here is not in contrasting the two sisters quite so directly, but rather looking at that word “distraction.” Jesus does not assume that Martha is wrong. Action is not unnecessary. Jesus wants his dinner, after all. He doesn’t say that she has chosen badly. He says simply: “You are distracted by many things.”

When we pull away from the binary, wrong verses right, Mary vs. Martha, and we hear “you are distracted by many things,” the Gospel might get a little less comfortable. I know it does for me. How easily could Jesus say these words to me? In fact a spiritual director or two of mine *has* said these words to me. “You are distracted.”

We live in a world that is full of distraction. The satyrical newspaper “The Onion” carried a headline a few years ago proclaiming “Americans spend 90% of their waking hours staring at glowing rectangles.” If you think about it, it’s frighteningly close to true. Now, I’m no luddite. I’m not going to say we need to trade in all of our technology, but I do wonder whether our media environment means we are more and more prone to distraction. How many of us feel phantom vibrations even when our phone isn’t in our pocket?

We have gone from a society where precious few were constantly “on call,” doctors, policemen, firefighters, to a world of smart phone owners who are never free from work. I worry that such distraction can be toxic to our inner life. Prayer, relationship with God, takes cultivated attention, and we give a lot of our attention away. Did you hear about Pokemon Go this week? The game is addictive. I’ve been playing. So has Ellis. It is fun, one you can quickly lose hours of your life and huge amounts of phone battery. But the game can be a little worrying. People are so distracted staring at their phone screens and virtual reality that they’re walking into objects, and getting robbed in actual reality. You’ve got to have some balance.

Can we make mindful decisions about how to interact with our devices? A priest friend recently told me that he has decided not to look at social media before 10:30 in the morning. He was in the habit of waking up and looking at his friends’ posts before he even got out of bed. He discovered that it was often making him anxious before his day even started. He decided instead to read the Bible or some other spiritual writing right after waking up. He says it has helped him get grounded in the early morning. He can save news and opinion from his social networks, which can be distressing, until he is more fully awake.

Several years ago my sister encouraged me to challenge the default mode, to change my settings around email. She set up her email so that she COULD access it on her phone, or on her computer but so that neither device would give her a reminder for every message. The default setting with a buzz or ding for every email was just too much, so she changed her way of interacting. In her words, “I want to check my email, I don’t want my email to check me.”

For some of you, the smartphone and Facebook are not your distractions, but I bet you can fill in some blank.” I would have more time for prayer, more time for silence if only I spent less time doing ____” The responses I shared from my friend and my sister are, I believe, creative ways to engage a world that offers constant distractions. Jesus’s words to Martha are a reminder, we are the stewards of our time.

We are the stewards of our time. Think back on your last week, your last month. Another way to think about Jesus’ teaching this morning is to ask yourself. Are my priorities reflected in the way I spend my time. Is my time showing what matters to me? If we are going to find time for prayer, time to read the Bible, time for meditation, time to share a meal with a loved one, time to reach out thoughtfully in service, we have to overcome ever multiplying distractions. If it was true for Martha, how much more true are Jesus’ words in our own day?

Distraction obviously exists on a personal level, but it has social resonances as well. How often are we distracted as a society? As I watch the political cycle these days I am troubled. How captivated are we by bluster and bluff? Are we asking political candidates questions of substance? Are we too content to be distracted by sideshow antics? There are social justice ramifications when we become distracted.

To illustrate this point fully, I have to stop avoiding the prophet Amos. Our reading this morning is really bleak, and just wait for next week. Amos wasn’t what you’d call a “Feel Good” prophet, a prophet like the Isaiah we read near Christmas. This is no “comfort comfort ye my people.” Amos vividly prophesies death and destruction.

In these next weeks as we read Amos, know that there is a direction to Amos’ lament. At the end of the book, the people *will* rebuild the ruined cities. God’s justice will return to Israel. But Amos’ words today are intentionally confrontational. Amos is trying to get his peoples’ attention. He is trying to rise above the distraction.

The Israelites have become so distracted by the pursuit of wealth that they are willing to defraud and enslave. They’ve been so distracted by wealth, they are asking God, “When will the sabbath day be over, so that we can get back to trading.” They even say that they want to “buy the poor for silver” in the words of our text today. Do they not hear their own words?

It is little wonder that God tells them to be silent. It is little wonder that the famine Amos prophesies is a famine of hearing God’s word. The people have been so caught up in *doing*, they haven’t reflected on their actions. The people have stopped taking time to listen for God’s voice of justice, to remember their story, and to reflect. Action without contemplation is dangerous.

You need both action and contemplation to follow Jesus. One without the other can be ineffective and yes, it can be dangerous. But balance is possible.

At the end of “Love in the Time of Cholera” Fermina and Florentino do get together, in the later years of their lives. She has had a reasonably happy marriage. He has had many lovers. But when Florentino discovers Fermina has become a widow, he courts her again, and they argue about whether to renew their relationship. Eventually he writes her another letter. She reads it:

“It was a calm letter that did not attempt to do more than express the state of mind that had held him captive the previous night. It was as lyrical as the others, as rhetorical as all of them, but it had a foundation in reality. Fermina…read it with some embarrassment because of the shameless racing of her heart.”

Coming together in old age, Fermina and Florentino balance one another. The romantic has become more measured. The practical woman who just didn’t want any eggplant in her marriage has a heart that will race.

In love as in the spiritual life, we need to balance both poles, the contemplative and the active, the romantic and the practical, Florentino and Fermina, Mary and Martha. As whole people can we pay attention to Jesus in prayer and in deed? We live in a world that is hurting. Can we focus on the One who yearns to bind up the broken, to make all of creation whole? Can we learn to let go of some of the distractions and follow Jesus?

St. George and the Book of Revelation: There Be Dragons

The exercise of faith may appear a little silly at times, but often, if you peel back the layers a bit, you will find very serious hope, a hope that can transform the world. Let me give you an example. Yesterday was the feast day of St. George, the patron saint of England, and thus a celebrated figure in many an Episcopal Church. We know very little about the historical life of St George. He is said to have been a soldier in the Roman Army, put to death for defending Christianity to the Emperor Diocletian.

But, if you’ve heard of George you probably know him better for slaying dragons. The church that sponsored me for seminary, St. Paul’s Cathedral in San Diego, had a St. George’s day festival every year. There was a service of Evensong, with a procession of bagpipes and drums through Balboa Park. One year in college, I television cameras spotted me in midst of the procession. I was walking in a white robe and swinging a pot of incense in front of a giant loaf of bread, baked in the shape of a dragon. After the service, the dean or bishop would cut off the bread dragon’s head with a sword. I thought to myself as I saw the news crew, “what are my friends in the dorm going to think of me now?” Well, it was probably a moot point. The jig was already up, even then. But I wondered what this affair in the streets looked like to outsiders. As I said, faith can appear a little silly at times.

I confess, I loved this service when I attended the Cathedral. I grew up reading stories of Merlin and King Arthur. I loved the Disney movie “The Sword in the Stone.” As I grew older, the love evolved a bit, but I will confess that I am still a bit of an Anglophile. I love Harry Potter and I toasted the queen’s 90th birthday this week. I have a predilection for almost all things English, so this very English dragon-slaying church service made me smile.

There is one hymn that always always has to be sung on St. George’s day. The hymn is almost a second national anthem for the country. The words are a poem by William Blake:

And did those feet in ancient time,
Walk upon England’s mountains green:
And was the holy Lamb of God,
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

The poem refers to another English legend, this one is not about England, but there is a story that Jesus himself lived in England. You know those 20 or so years that we don’t know about in Jesus’ life? The years between when he gets lost in the temple as a boy, and his baptism as an adult by John? Well, if you ask the English, Jesus was living near Glastonbury. Hiding from the Roman army, and working with tin-merchants trading between Palestine and England. As I said, faith can appear a little silly at times, and that may be particularly true in our Mother Church, the Church of England, and also of those of us in The Episcopal Church who go in for this dragon-slaying love of England.

If any Christians are well prepared to read the Revelation to John, it may be us Episcopalians. I mean, there be dragons in this book. Yet, if we were to take a survey of this congregation about your favorite and least favorite books in the Bible, my bet would be that Revelation would be close to the bottom of the list. Am I wrong?

I’ll admit, the last book of the Bible is difficult to read. There are a lot of obscure references, discussions of confusing visions, angelic armies, beasts, and anti-christs. Revelation is not bedtime reading.

Part of the difficulty we have with Revelation, we may have generally with the Biblical genre of prophecy. Prophecy is not the telling of the future as it will be. There are many churches that teach Revelation this way. When I was in college, a preacher was telling people that Colin Powell could the the Anti-Christ predicted in the Revelation of John, because Colin Powell might bring peace in the Middle East. The preacher read the Bible and the newspaper, and he was convinced John knew about Colin Powell. I happen to know Powell is an Episcopalian. I’m not sure whether telling this preacher that would have convinced him that the Secretary wasn’t going to start writing 666 on people’s foreheads. But I will tell you today, the end times didn’t come when I was in college. I’m pretty sure Colin Powell wasn’t predicted by the Bible.

We are confused about the genre of prophecy today. Some of the best scholarship on the Book of Revelation ties the allegorical stories of John of Patmos to specific events, but not events in our time. John was writing about his own time. At least one of the dragons is thought to represent the emperor Nero, who burned Christians alive and may have set Rome on fire to make room to expand his palace. John’s stories were meant to help Christians see their violent persecution in divine terms. Prophecy is not prognostication. Prophecy is telling of a future that might be, in order to illuminate the injustices of the present.

The image we have today from Revelation makes all of the dragons worth fighting. The Holy City seen by John, the image of the New Jerusalem, is the object of hope at the heart of the prophecy. This New Jerusalem is the destination, a dwelling with God. And God will wipe away every tear.

The image of the New Jerusalem doesn’t just belong to us Christians. The ancient Rabbis taught that when you walk the streets of Jerusalem, you actually pass through two cities. They say that there is an earthly Jerusalem, and a heavenly Jerusalem. This spiritual Jerusalem, the heavenly city promised by God, hovers just inches above the streets of the earthly Jerusalem. This is the Jerusalem of prophecy, the Jerusalem that might be. And the heavenly Jerusalem casts light on the earthly Jerusalem.

The earthly task, they say, of good Jewish people (and I might add, of Good Christians as well) is to build up the earthly city until it reaches the level of the spiritual city. The task of faith is to raise those streets up, to lift up the earthly until it reaches the holy. This is a task that goes on each and every day. When we reach out a helping hand to someone in trouble, when we respond to hatred with love, when we act with patience and kindness, when we “love one another” as Jesus invites us today, the earthly city reaches upward.

I heard this story from a Rabbi friend in Washington while we were organizing around a sewer system. We weren’t physically in the sewers, we were actually standing in a mosque. In DC I was part of a group of clergy and lay people called the Washington Interfaith Network, and we organized together around common work for justice. The Environmental Protection Agency had demanded that Washington DC spend close to three billion dollars updating its storm sewers, to prevent sewage from flowing into the Potomac River. We agreed with that goal, but we had another goal. We wanted this effort to hire unemployed and underemployed residents of DC.

My Rabbi friend made the connection between the Capital of Israel, and our own Capital city. It is our work, she said, as believers in God, to bring our city up to God’s standards. If it is true in Jerusalem, it is true in Washington, and if it is true in Washington, could it be true in St. Louis?

William Blake’s poem is commonly known by the name of the hymn tune to which you sing his words: “Jerusalem.” The final stanza goes like this:

I will not cease from Mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant Land.

Jerusalem represents a hope, a hope of John, a hope apparently for England, and a hope for all of our Jewish neighbors who are ending their passover dinners these nights with the words “next year in Jerusalem.” This heavenly city represents a hope for the potential of humanity. Jerusalem represents the hope for an ideal, that we might live together in a city, treat one another with justice. Jerusalem represents the hope that we might lift up our cities, to live as God intends.

And, in John, the hope is greater than simply human endeavor. For in his vision, the heavenly Jerusalem is brought to us. It is not our effort, but God’s that brings about the New Jerusalem. This reading from Acts is one of my favorite. In the story Peter finds himself on a rooftop. He’s heard a word from God that he is to preach to the Gentiles, but he seems uncertain. He learned to stay away from those outside his ethnic group. He’s got categories and prejudices, and he believes they are sanctioned. In a dream, an angel brings down all manner of food he is not supposed to eat. Peter is shocked. “Never have I let anything profane pass through my lips” he tells the angel, but still he is commanded to eat. “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” Peter interprets the vision beyond food. He understands that God is asking him to let go of his categories for human beings. God is inviting him to a more inclusive vision. He goes to tell the other apostles, and at first they are shocked. As they hear the story of how God is moving among these outsiders, they are moved. Peter finally says “who was I that I could hinder God?”

The New Jerusalem belongs to God, and defies all of our categories and exclusions. God’s vision of humanity lifted up to the heavenly city is a welcoming and inclusive vision, of all the peoples together. We need God to realize this vision of reconciliation. Our own vision won’t do. We need God’s city to shed light on our city. Only by collaborating with God will we reach Jerusalem. And we’re going to have to wrestle some dragons.

The writer GK Chesterton once said: “Fairy Tales are more than true” more than true, “not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” We live in a world where their be dragons: poverty, oppression, brutality, violence. Some of us face personal dragons of addiction or depression. I could never name them all. But we belong to a faith that believes in dragon slayers. Happy St. George’s day.

The book of Revelation with all of its allegories and metaphors can seem daunting. Some Christian interpretations of these prophecies are just downright silly. But at the heart is a prophecy can we find a central faithful hope? We live in a world where we witness great suffering. We all face loss and death. But John’s prophetic word is that the pain will pass. Death does not have the final say over life. God is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega. And God will wipe away every tear.