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Embracing Death (of a Different Kind) in Holy Week

Is the church too afraid of death?

I am closing a congregation. Helping close, that is, a congregation whose members voted to end the ministry as they have known it.

It's hard. I am watching people grieve, second guess themselves and wonder where they will go after their beloved building sells. I've never closed a congregation, nor have I ever participated in a congregation that closed, nor known one interested in closing. Most dying church institutions I've known have done everything possible not to close, so walking this path feels a little strange, if not lonely.

The predicament strikes me as ironic, especially during Holy Week. This week marks the culmination of a Lenten season in which we walk with Jesus through his passion to the cross, where Jesus will not try to keep doing things the way he's always done them until he can no longer survive, but where Jesus will die, be buried and – as we recite in the Creed – descend to the dead. It is the salvation story into which we enter each year anew; the path we urge people ...

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