Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Mt 5:4
By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Ex 13:21
You might be wondering what these two passages have to do with each other. And honestly, they are not related. Except for one thing. They are both reminder of God’s presence.
Yesterday (11/3/19) was All Saints Sunday, a day on the liturgical calendar set aside to remember those who have gone before us. There is a long history of Christians remembering the dead, and that history extends into Judaism as well.
Jews practice something called “Yahzreit”, which includes lighting a candle on the anniversary of a person’s death, or at significant times in the Jewish calendar. It is a way of honoring those who have gone before.
Notice the candle – the flame – the light. Now I turn to the passage from Exodus. God’s presence was known in the pillar of fire. As long as those wandering in the desert saw that pillar of fire, they were reminded of God’s presence.
And as Christians, we believe that the dead in Christ are not truly dead, rather they are in God’s presence, so lighting a candle of remembrance is a way of reminding us that God is present with us, and our loved ones are present with God, therefore we are blessed – even when we mourn.
Yesterday we lit candles in memory of our departed loved ones. Yesterday we had a prayer of thanksgiving for their lives, and we gave God all praise and honor and glory.
And the flames reminded us that God always goes with us.