"Your body is the first thing any child of man ever wanted. Therefore dispose yourself to be loved, to be wanted, to be available. Be there for them with a vengeance. Be a gracious, bending woman. Incline your ear, your heart, your hands to them.... To be a Mother is to be the sacrament - the effective symbol - of place. Mothers do not make homes, they are our home." from Bed and Board, Robert Farrar Capon

Monday, September 2, 2013

After A Death

This past Saturday, August 31st, four of our church congregations gathered to celebrate the wedding of two young church members. Most of us have known the groom and bride their entire lives, and there was great gladness as we all celebrated this union which, as Saint Paul writes, is a great mystery, anticipating the final Wedding Supper of the Lamb.

As the festivities were coming to a close one young member, an eleven year old girl whom also most of us have known all her life, a girl who had just hours before sung special songs with her family's band for the groom and bride during the reception,
died.

She was suddenly taken to heaven, to the Lamb of God Himself. Not many of us knew until late Saturday evening or early Sunday morning. And Sunday morning, yesterday, we mourned with the Feliciano family, as a family. We received the Body and Blood of Jesus, broken for us, for the forgiveness of our sins and we heard again that our Savior Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, and we, the living were comforted by the promises of God, that we do not grieve as those who have no hope. We know that we and all believers in Christ will live eternally with Him.

In one day we rejoiced exceedingly with those who rejoiced,
and in the same night mourned exceedingly with those who mourned. (Romans 12:15)

Who can comprehend God's timing? 
As the heavens are higher than the earth,
His ways are higher than our ways,
His thoughts higher than our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)

In our living room late at night after the wedding my husband broke the news to our children that our dear friend Taylor Feliciano was now with Jesus in heaven. As we wept, my husband read this prayer from the Lutheran Book of Prayer which comforted us and I pray that it will comfort friends who are mourning today.

 "After A Death"

Amid our tears, O Lord, we praise You 
that You have received Taylor to Yourself in glory for all eternity. 
We thank You that You have brought her to the knowledge of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
 Comfort all who mourn with the glorious hope of the resurrection and life eternal. 
Grant us grace to say with a believing heart, "Thy will be done," and to know that Your will
 is a good and gracious will, even in the present hour. Comfort us through your gospel, 
which promises strength and help to the troubled and weary. 
O Lord, forsake us not in this hour. 
Prepare us through Your Word and Sacrament for that day when You will call us to Yourself, 
that we may joyfully join the whole company of heaven to live with you forever; 
for Jesus sake I ask it. Amen.

38 comments:

  1. Amidst our tears, oh Lord, we praise you. Amen

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  2. Thank you Leah. That is very comforting.

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  3. Thank You Leah. The Feliciano Ohana thank Our Lord & Savior for what He has done, is doing, and will yet do.

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  4. Although its hard to read thru tears and heartache, I believe! I am thankful for the body of Christ and friends! Because it says in Matthew, Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted. In just reading your blog post with my family our faith is strengthened. Thank You.

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  5. Thank you for sharing, I am Laurel Reid (Feliciano) my brother is Clifford. I pray for my brother, my sister Ellen, and my nieces & nephews. My family is my life (as well as God). . . and all of my OHANA is special to me, they each hold a place so special with in me. Each of them individually in there own special way. Taylor especially so, as with everyone their celebrating a beautiful wedding. Growing up with a Christian faith, I know she is with The Lord, I just want her here . . . and when you have a child so beautiful in every way her smile, laughter, song, dance and etc. I just want to be SELFISH and say GOD bring her back! My heart aches for my OHANA . . . my tears consume me each day. It brings back memories of another loss child our family suffered years ago. God has beautiful children up in heaven to meet and greet others. That's all I can say . . . and my TAY TAY will surely be missed here on earth. JUST HAD TO VENT . . . but I do appreciate all your guys support there in OLYMPIA for my brother & sister and the kids. Mahalo to you all!

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  6. Praying that our Lord gives this family everything they need in the days and weeks to come!! Thank you Lord for your goodness and promise that those who believe will have everlasting life. Amen.

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  7. Dear Cliff, Olivia, and Laurel,
    I am so thankful that you are comforted in this small way. I was so taken back to see your names and comments here that tears filled my eyes. We love you. We are here for you. The only way I know to help in this situation or any other tragedy in this life is to do what is set before me this minute, no matter how insignificant it may seem. I can care for my home, clean up the breakfast mess, change my baby's diaper, talk to my children, and remember that all these things done here for the least of the brethren, are done to Jesus. And by faith I believe that each of us in doing this will strengthen the church everywhere. I know that is what Ellen and each of you are doing today, though through tears. We pray for you. May God's peace and grace be on you this day and each day forward.

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  8. Replies
    1. Taylor was invited to the final marriage supper of the Lamb where we all will one day rejoice with her and all those loved ones who have gone to be with Jesus. We love you Feliciano family and are praying mightily on your behalf.

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  9. Dear Leah,

    Thank you. It is hard to say at times but I am believing sweet Taylor Ululani is with our dear Lord Jesus with no more pain and is and was always His child. God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in time of trouble. Bless you all today.

    Elena Feliciano

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    1. Dearest Elena,
      There is not a shadow of a doubt that Taylor is with Jesus right now. Every Sunday she took the body and blood of Christ for the remission of her sins. Every Sunday she, by faith, confessed herself a sinner and received forgiveness. She believed. She believed like the infant baptized a few Sundays ago. She believed like I do today. She, like me and you, confessed by faith that is was not by her own strength that she came to Jesus, but the Holy Ghost called her, like He did me and you, by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He calls us, He enlightens us with His gifts, HE sanctifies and keeps us in the true faith every single day of our lives, just like He did for Taylor to the end.
      We are his sinners and He is our blessed Savior. Praise God.

      We are His. Forever.

      "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
      Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
      Romans 8:38-39

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  10. "...Comfort all who are in grief over this death, and be and remain to the bereaved their Father, Provider, Guardian, Helper, and Support. Do not forsake them, and do not withdraw Thy hand from them, but let them abundantly experience Thy goodness, grace, love, and help, until Thou shalt grant them also a happy and blessed end. Hear us for Thy mercy's sake. Amen." - excerpt from Starck's Prayer Book

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  11. Thank you, Leah. As I'm doing lots of laundry today this is comforting to hear. Feeling like part of me is there with my family in Portland. I believe in the resurrection of the dead. I keep remembering how she looked singing in the special songs on the stage and how free n happy she looked and how much The Lord loves her way more then we can comprehend.

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  12. Thankyou Leah for the gift god has put in you to express the pain we feel and the love we have the Feliciano family. Gods peace.

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  13. Leah, thank you for these encouraging words and all you others who have replied. I am so thankful for the forgiveness of sins and the communion of saints. Gods word is the only thing that gives real comfort.

    Faith Scamman

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  14. Leah, this has brought comfort to me all day. I miss my sister very much. She is not here in body but there is no doubt she is risen with Him. I am thankful I serve a God of faithfulness to me who forgives me my sins. And thankful for friends who are committed to me and my family.

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    1. God's peace to you Mahea. John and I love your family very much. We're here.

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  15. Feliciano family, you are in our thoughts, our hearts, and our prayers. What amazing comfort God provides us through the body of Christ.
    (Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. 2 Corinthians 1:3-5)

    This hymn has also been in my mind all day:

    My life flows on in endless song;
    Above earth’s lamentation
    I hear the sweet though far off hymn
    That hails a new creation:
    Through all the tumult and the strife
    I hear the music ringing;
    It finds an echo in my soul—
    How can I keep from singing?

    What though my joys and comforts die?
    The Lord my Savior liveth;
    What though the darkness gather round!
    Songs in the night He giveth:
    No storm can shake my inmost calm
    While to that refuge clinging;
    Since Christ is Lord of Heav’n and earth,
    How can I keep from singing?

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  16. "Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows..." Isaiah 53:4

    Our Lord and Savior is no stranger to suffering; and specifically to our own specific sorrows. In fact, he has borne them already for us. Were it not for this; we would surely despair. He carries us through our mother church so that even through the worst of circumstances; we are not alone.
    We mourn with you, Feliciano family. God has intertwined our families so that truly, your sorrows are our sorrows, but we also rejoice with you in the knowledge that our little sister is with Jesus and we will receive her once more in glory.
    Stay close and soft with your parents. You are very privileged to have parents who have a deep foundation in the Word. We love you,
    Jesse and Christal

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  17. Dear Leah and John,

    Thank you for your post for Taylor. Taylor is a blessing and a light unto the world. Seeing your post Leah shows us that all our lives are intertwined because of Christ's death on the Cross. Even though Taylor's death was tragic and sudden, it has shown me the band of brothers that are fighting with me and my family. I am so blessed to have uncles and aunts laboring in the Word for me each day. I love you Taylor.

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  18. We are praying for you Feliciano's. May you be drawn closer to God and strengthened by the body of Christ in this time of mourning. May you also be comforted that our dear Taylor is now with the Lord. We love you all very much.

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  19. Feliciano family - "The Lord is thy keeper, the Lord is thy defense upon thy right hand..." Psalm 121:5

    We are praying for you daily, it is so true that when one member suffers, we all suffer. I am reminded of the scripture above - it brings so much peace, knowing that our Lord Jesus is truly our keeper in the midst of everything, whether we understand or not...
    We love you, -The Hopes

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  20. We are praying for you continually Feliciano family. May God give you comfort and rest daily through His Word and our church family. We love you.
    Psalm 9:10 Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.

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  21. Neither life nor death shall ever,
    From The Lord his children sever;
    Unto them His grace He showeth,
    And their sorrows all He knoweth.

    Though He giveth, or He taketh,
    God His Children ne'er forsaketh;
    His the loving purpose solely,
    To preserve them, pure and holy.

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  22. What comfort there is in His Body and His Word. Thank you Leah for expressing so eloquently our pain that we feel.

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  23. We love you and are praying for you. -the Haynes

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  24. We do mourn with Cliff & Ellen, their family, their church; as we know they are a very close people. When Taylor was named I remember thinking of how the hearts of the families in our Portland Church were knit in a very special way...and it has once again been outstanding thru her falling asleep in Him.
    I am so thankful for God's Word in and among us, as HE is our Hope.

    I Thessalonians 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.

    14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.

    15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.

    16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:

    17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

    18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

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  25. Amen.
    We love you, Felicianos.

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  26. Its me Laurel, Taylor's Day is today, as I sit on my Lanai I am having a coffee w/a cigarette.(Yikes . . . I will quit one day . . . sorry) I am looking into the morning sky and having my quite time w/my Lord & Savior asking for courage for myself to hold it together to speak at the services today. I am praying for my big brother Clifford . . . because . . . I love him so much & Ellen she is MY SISTER and always has been, I ask for god's comfort and peace be upon them today. All the children & grandchildren I ask the same in my prayer's. I know because of Gods Grace we can forgive, love, and have compassion. I do not open my bible every day, however when I do I know that god is working in me and he has something to tell me. My quite times are the times I cherish the most, even as my tears consume me at this moment . . . I surely miss TAYLOR, and I know everyone doe's too. God Grant me and everyone the serenity we all need to know this day. God is good and His MERCY endures forever . . . AMEN!

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    1. I was very glad to meet you at the funeral today Laurel. I believe we all appreciated what you spoke during the services. You held it together quite well, I must say! (I loved the bit about the brownies; it was a great lightener-upper. ;)

      May God's peace be on you and your family tonight, and upon all the Feliciano family. We love you.

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    2. Leah . . . right back at you. It was my pleasure meeting you and thank you for helping me in just letting my emotions go on this . . . I guess it's a blog? It reminds me of a time in my life where I use to right in a journal in my early twenties. WEll now that I am older and wiser . . . I just express myself outloud. (LOL) Less paper waste! Anyway you have a wonderful sunday and a beautiful week too. I am a work in progress. I love you more . . .

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  27. Leah . . . I sincerely apologize . . . Mahealani . . . got in touch with me, my phone was off, and I went online this morning . . . she asked me to call her, and I totally understand. My bad . . . I was in the moment last night, angry, hurt, and feeling for my brother Clifford & Ellen and the kids. I thought I was okay . . . and I guess . . . I am not. We had a family luncheon before my brother Gavin left back to LA and work, and it was a great day. I truly believe that satan is out to steal, kill and destroy all the is good and well with GOD. I just was not going to let that happen "with a full moon out" last night. I know that as a Christian . . . we have the power and authority to "rebuke satan" in JESUS CHRIST name and to stay away form my brother's family and etc. I was just asking GOD to send not just one or a million angels . . . send them all . . . to cover Cliff & Ellen and his children no matter how far they live or across all generations. That is where I was caught up in the moment. The living . . . now has to find that balance and courage to move forward, especially trying to find "NORMAL" . . . it will be a work in progress for all of us, especially so for The C. Feliciano's. I know their are "prayer warriors" out there and in a small way . . . I know that when there are two or more gathered together . . . God hear's us, and I am only one person . . . to LIFT the family up everyday . . . what ever in that moment God wants us to say in prayer . . . take a moment . . . and just say it and believe in it, and say it with authority. In my life . . . I tend to forget about my HUSBAND (Scott) and my 4legged baby girls (pua & zoey) a lot lately . . . My husband has a big heart and always has good intentions and in our own special way, he supports me . . . with a hug or comforts me the best he can, I have to remember to "freely receive it", cause I try to draw my strength from with in myself, and need to realize that I have a husband to lean on, I have been independent, strong and always having a positive attitude about everything for so long. It is easy for me to just "handle it" myself. I just got to remember that my strength doe's come from the Lord. I took this week off from work to be some sort of support system in a small way for Ellen & the kids even though I can't do much . . . accept make them laugh . . . keep there minds occupied for a moment or two. Distracting them to focus on other things, at least I try too . . . I will admit behind all the laughter there are TEARS! I know this much when that day comes to be a WARRIOR for GOD on the battle field . . . between heaven & hell, I will be the first in line everyone else better stand behind me . . . cause I am gonna be carrying my shield of faith, my helmet of righteousness, and the sword of . . . something I forgot . . . I probably got it backwards too. You know what I mean?

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    1. Laurel, I completely understand. Personally I have no problem with your free and passionate outpouring on behalf of your brother and his family. (By the way, thank you so much for re-posting this "G rated"(haha) version of your previously deleted comment and for your understanding in covering the public audience of this blog, which isn't that big anyway to tell you the truth. :P ;)

      I'm sure the Felicianos greatly appreciate your presence and practical care for them at this critical time, especially your gift to make them laugh, which is much needed. And thank you for your reminder for all of us to continue to pray for them because the "new normal" as you said is going to heartrendingly tough for them to find.

      It comforted me greatly to hear Pastor Taylor, for whom our sweet little sister Taylor was affectionately named, preach at the funeral about how Taylor's church baptism years ago was the moment her "big death" happened, in the sense that, when she was baptized she died to her own life and became alive in Christ, and Satan lost His hold on her, and she received at that moment the beginning of her eternal life with Jesus her Savior. Now that the death of her body (the "smaller death") has happened she has finally fully entered that state of joy and completeness that she only held as a promise before.

      The battle has already been won, Satan was conquered for each one of us by Jesus' redemptive death on the cross, when He took the keys of Death and Hell once and for all. And then in His resurrection He sealed our resurrection with Him in the last day. All our sins are on Him now and we are His forever. All we do is receive His grace and pass that good news of grace on to every one we know. I am so thankful for this. Love you Laurel. God's peace to you tonight.

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    2. Leah . . . thank you very much for your words of encouragement and reminder to me that "the battle has already been WON" with Taylor! The message that Kirk shared was on point. I am very thankful for everyone's continued prayers. I am going to keep paying it forward . . . and sharing with others . . . about GODS GRACE . . . it is so TRUE! Thank you for your words of inspiration and empowerment. A BIG HUG OF GRATITUDE is coming your way . . . right now! (XOXO . . . hug, hug, hug)

      Aloha Pumehana . . . Laurel

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    3. Right back at you sister. XOXO :D

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  28. Hi Leah this is Ellen. Just wanted to say thank you. We are truly blessed that God has so much promises for us. 1 John 4:19 We love him, because he first loved us and in Phillipians 4:13 I/We can do all things through Christ who strengthens me/us. We just go day by day and forget his promises but because the forgiveness of sins we are able to start over. We miss her alot but know that she is with our Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour. Thanks a BUNCH! We appreciate you and your family. Bless you!

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    1. God's peace to you today Ellen. We love your family too.

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