Denise Mersmann serves as the Early Childhood Coordinating Assistant at The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.
Our family joined Resurrection in July of 1996, about two weeks before our second daughter, Caroline, was born. In October of that year Carrie passed away suddenly from leukemia that had not been diagnosed. Our family was in shock, our world had been rocked and our faith was shaken.
Within hours of Carrie’s death, we received a call from Pastor Adam that he would be coming to talk to us and help us make decisions about the funeral. By the time he arrived, people we had never met were dropping off food, offering to help in any way they could. Flowers and plants came from Kate’s Sunday school teachers and families of kids she had just met. The mom of a youth nursery volunteer called to say how heartbroken her daughter was. She had just gotten to hold Carrie the previous Sunday and wondered if it would be okay if they attended the visitation.
The next day our mailbox was filled with sympathy cards–some from people we knew, but mostly from people at our new church we had never met. Over the next couple of weeks our mailbox continued to be filled with cards and notes, signed “your COR family”, “prayers from a friend at Church of the Resurrection,” and “we haven’t met, but we go to your church.”
As we went through the days and weeks ahead adjusting to our new normal, we found that our “church family” (this group of strangers from the church that we were told would be too big for us to really get connected) had taken their time and put forth the effort to be stretcher bearers for our family.
Through the years we realized that during the darkest time of our lives, God had shown us His incredible mercy by putting us in a place where His people could show us His love in real, tangible ways. Not one person who supported us during this time did it because they had to. They did it because they know God’s grace and realize that His grace is more than enough for each of us. More importantly they know that by spreading His grace the world can be changed, one person at a time.
On Carrie’s eighteenth birthday, I pulled out the box with all those cards (over 400 total) and sat down to read the words that had carried and sustained my family many years before. As I read them and looked at the names of the strangers who had sent them, I found that most of these people weren’t strangers at all. Over the years, we have gotten to know many of the people who took the time to care for us. In fact, as I read the heartfelt message of one card I was not surprised to see the names at the bottom were a family that went from our “COR family” to our dearest friends.
You see, God knew that what we needed wasn’t just for the moment. We needed a church family that would celebrate with us, grieve with us, laugh and cry with us, and most of all live the example of what His grace looks like, so that we can one day share that grace with another family who needs it.
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.