Christmastide Blessings

Christmastide Blessings
Annual Incarnation of the Story of the Birth of Jesus

Continuing the work of Jesus, simply, peacefully, JOYFULLY, together.

We worship at 9:30 am on Sunday.
Sunday School begins at 11 am.
Potluck is the first Sunday of the month.

17975 Centreville-Constantine Road, Constantine, MI 49042

florence.brethren.mennonite@gmail.com

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bryan Shelly Memorial Service including Meditation by Nina Lanctot

There has been more silence on this blog. I as a pastor have been recovering from illness along with the sorrow that our congregation holds in the aftermath of the suicide of Bryan Shelly. Below you will find the meditation from the service. Mark Shelly and Kim Henritzy, Bryan's parents, worked closely with me to create this message. They very much want some good to come out of the bad news of Bryan's death. His life was so much more, full of excellence, gentleness and success. May these words bless you or someone you know. Nina

Memorial Service for Bryan Shelly

February 28, 1992 -- December 27, 2009

Service by Florence Church of the Brethren Mennonite
at Marcellus High School Gymnasium
Marcellus, Michigan

Sunday 3 January 2010 at 1 pm

MUSIC FOR GATHERING
John Mark, Emily, Elizabeth and Margaret Wenger

FRIENDS AND FAMILY HONOR BRYAN
Ben Nofsinger Jon Swartz
Tyler Lanning Caleb Reuter
Ian Shelly Todd Shelly

LIGHTING OF CANDLES BY THE FAMILY

WORDS OF WELCOME & OPENING PRAYER
Nina Lanctot,
Pastor of Florence Church of the Brethren Mennonite

SONG
“Here in this place” (insert)

BRYAN SHELLY’S LIFE
Mark Shelly

SPECIAL MUSIC
Ben Nofsinger

REFLECTIONS
Kim Henritzy
Kathy and Willard Fenton-Miller Family Friends
Peter Steinkraus Marcellus HS Senior
Dave DeCou Marcellus HS Teacher and Coach
Hannah Reuter Marcellus HS Senior
Tim Perry Pastor and Marcellus Coach

PRAYER
Bangern Jinna Pastor, Los Angeles, CA

SONG
“Precious Lord, take my hand” sung by Florence Church

SCRIPTURE & WORDS OF HOPE
John 1: 5 and John 14:18-19
“You are not alone” by Nina Lanctot

SPECIAL MUSIC
Ian Shelly and Luke Nofsinger

GLIMPSES OF BRYAN SHELLY’S LIFE
SLIDE SHOW & VIDEO
Created by the family & Ben Nofsinger

“KICK AT THE DARKNESS ‘TIL IT BLEEDS DAYLIGHT”
At the close of the slide show everyone is invited to light electric candles or open their cell phones. As the light builds and we sing this prayer together, we commit to fight the darkness together and to remember the light that Bryan contributed to our lives.

SONG
“Lord, listen to your children” (insert)

INVITATION TO GREET THE FAMILY AND EAT TOGETHER

CLOSING WORDS & PRAYER
Nina Lanctot


MEDITATION: SCRIPTURE & WORDS OF HOPE

John 1: 5 and John 14:18-19
“You are not alone” by Nina Lanctot

John 1:5
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 14:18-19
"I will not leave you desolate or orphaned;
I will not leave you alone.
I am coming to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me;
because I live, you also will live.

THE BAD NEWS

A week ago we were stunned and shocked and deeply saddened by bad news. Bryan, our son, our friend, relative, student, was so overcome with depression that he chose to end his life.

I asked myself, as I think we all did, “Why didn’t I see this coming? Why didn’t I reach out more to Bryan? Surely there was something I could have done…” We each face our lists of regret.

And we face our anger. This just isn’t right! Bryan was so young, so talented, so well loved. He had his whole life before him.

Why did he end up able to love everyone but himself and overwhelmed with sorrow? We want to know WHY. Why did this happen?

We will never have answers to all these questions. But we can have hope in three things.

 We can learn to make a difference for those overwhelmed with sorrow.
 We can receive forgiveness and peace for the regrets we feel.
 And we can know that Bryan is not alone, and neither are we.

MAKING A DIFFERNCE

There is one thing that is absolutely clear to Kim and Mark and to all of us. We want good to come of Bryan’s life. We want our reflections on Bryan’s death not to overshadow the gift of his life.

While we will never fully know Bryan’s path in the last weeks and months, we do know that he was in a dark, dark, space in his mind and his soul. So we need to talk about depression and mental illness.

Depression is an illness that affects many, many people. It is a chemical disease that alters a person’s ability to feel, think and make decisions. It makes life seem narrower and narrower, so that the ability to see options or perceive hope starts shutting down. There is often no apparent trigger to depression. The stresses of life are a factor, but some people are just prone to be depressed, just as some are prone to be diabetic or asthmatic. Like other illnesses, once the disease has begun, it tends to get worse unless a person receives medication and counseling and support from family and friends.

Depression isn’t the same as feeling sad. It is persistent hopelessness, guilt and thoughts of death that last two weeks or more. To live and love wisely, we can be aware…

We can know our family history. We track diabetes and heart disease and alcoholism. We can also look at our family trees for tendencies toward depression.

And we need to know that there is good news. Depression and other mental illnesses are treatable.

I know. I have been clinically depressed off and on beginning in high school. I have known the feeling that death seems like relief. But when I am not depressed, it is clear to me that is a lie. Today I can tell you that I am not depressed and have not been for years because I got help. And I have been able to get help for others.

Depression makes it very hard to talk. But there are many ways to get help. A simple note: “I need help,” is a beginning. A call to a helpline. An appointment with a counselor. We have a strong community around us. We can choose life and find hope if we support one another.

What if someone doesn’t want help? What if they tell you they are thinking of death and say not to tell?

Even then there can be a way. While we keep the trust of our friends when they confide in us, sometimes we must tell the secrets of others. When a person is in danger of hurting themselves or others we can and MUST tell someone, even if we were told not to tell. We can ask the person to share themselves. But if that person is not willing to do so, I will. We must. We can learn that getting help is more important than keeping dangerous secrets.

The scripture in John 1:5 says that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it – or overshadow it.” While depression takes us to deep darkness and a sense of worthlessness, I think it is so evident today that the gift of life in Bryan and the gift of life in this community is real and powerful and precious. If mental illness tells us there is now way out, it does not have to be the final answer.

RECEIVING FORGIVENESS

I believe God looks on the whole of our lives and looks on our hearts. While we feel many regrets with the painful vision of 20 20 hindsight, God would not wish us to paralyzed by shame and self punishment. Our purpose in life is to love, and we know that being stuck on our failures does not allow us to love fully.
“There is nothing that can separate us from the love of God,” it says in Romans. And Jesus life and death give us powerful evidence of that reality.

We know that Jesus closest friends and family did not understand his struggles and the death he faced. They did not stick with him, were not able to prevent him from suffering an unjust and sorrowful death. Jesus felt alone, crying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

But we also know that Jesus first act upon rising from the dead was to return to the upper room where he had his last meal with his friends. In John 20, what does he say? “Peace be with you.” He not only fully forgives them, but he breathes new life into them. He breathes resurrection breath through them and gives them the power of the Spirit to be his hands and feet and eyes and heart in the world. Through their deep suffering together he knows they are transformed into people not paralyzed by death, by failings, by shame, by anything. They know that “nothing can separate them from the love of God.” Beyond the worst that sin and death can deal, the good news is that life and love are stronger. Life prevails. And Jesus is breathing that same Spirit of new life and love and forgiveness and courage into us.

And into Bryan.

WE ARE NOT ALONE

Our hearts go out to Bryan. It seems he felt all alone. But we know that is not true. Look at us all here! We are here because we are all attached to Bryan, care for him, and love him. And even as we sense God’s love here with us, we know God’s love was with Bryan, even when we could not feel it. Bryan was not alone even though he felt that way.

And I believe he is not alone now. I sense that someone who knew the path of great sorrow is holding him and healing him. I sense that someone who said, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” is sharing a deep understanding with Bryan. I sense that Jesus is healing Bryan’s body, mind and heart at the same time that God is reaching out to heal us all. I believe that Bryan is being cared for forever and that his sorrow is being relieved.

Jesus promised his friends:

John 14:18-19

"I will not leave you desolate or orphaned;
I am coming to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me;
because I live, you also will live.”

I believe this promise is for Bryan and all of us.

I believe God in God’s mercy looks on the whole of Bryan’s life – his humor, great hair, friendships, drive, family life, questions, risk taking and all – and receives the whole of him into God’s love. And God’s peace. And we are received, right now, in life, in that same way, too.

THERE IS HOPE IN PEACE: PRAYER FOR PEACE

We pause again to open ourselves to God’s peace. We offer these prayers as a beginning of making peace and a commitment to finding peace in time.

In our hearts let us hold our regrets and say to Bryan, “Bryan, we are sorry. We wish we would have done differently. God, forgive us and give us peace.”

In our hearts let us hold the ways we have felt hurt by Bryan. "Bryan, we forgive you and we ask God to give peace – to you and to us.”

In our hearts let us hold whatever keeps us from being at peace with ourselves, with those around us, and with God.

O God, forgive us. Help us to become free from shame and guilt, from selfishness and sorrow. Grant us your peace. For in your peace there is hope. AMEN

CLOSING WORDS & PRAYER

Look around. We are a strong community.
The gift of Bryan Shelly’s life has been a blessing
and has made us stronger. That strength will continue.
As we end this time of worship I love the words that Mark choose from Bruce Cochburn:

“KICK AT THE DARKNESS ‘TIL IT BLEEDS DAYLIGHT”
we commit to fight the darkness together
and to remember the light
that Bryan contributed to us all.

We will remember Bryan
and smile and cry in the months and years ahead.
For now, we say good-bye.
And we commit Bryan and ourselves to God’s peace.

Bryan,
May God bless you and keep you.
May God’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May God give you peace.

Loved Ones,
May God bless you and keep you.
May God’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you and comfort you.
May God give you peace.

As we go let us once more pass the peace of Christ to our right and to our left – and to Bryan.
Go in peace. We are not alone. God is with us all.

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