Mini-deaths are those situations, or significant events, that occur in our lives that cause a part of us to feel as if it has died. We experience mini-deaths throughout our lifetime. A mini-death can occur from something simple, to something major occurring in our lives. When we experience a sort of mini-death, we are often left with a kind of depressed feeling, which has been described sometimes as a hollow feeling. Something that was a part of you is now gone. Mini-deaths can include things like a son or daughter getting married, for even though you might be caught up in the excitement of that event, there still may be a part of you that feels hollow inside. Or it might be that something in house, something that has sentimental value to you is suddenly gone, and you can't stop thinking about it. ..... The disciples must have certainly experienced a mini-death as they watched the resurrected Jesus ascend away from their immediate presence and into heaven. The disciples most likely experienced that hollow feeling. However, it is what happens to the disciples in the wake of the time period that begins the church season we celebrate today, namely this day of Pentecost...... Pentecost, as we might have heard many times in our lives, is the birthday of the Church. The disciples, the followers of Christ, receive Jesus’ gift of the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. So in the midst of their feelings of being down, depressed, and questioning their future, the Advocate, the Spirit arrives to give them a new beginning, a new birth. That's what the Pentecost season focuses our Christian lives upon. Pentecost is the season of growing, but in order to have growth; we must have a new life, a new beginning. That is where part two comes in from the mini-deaths, because for every time we experience a mini-death, we also experience a new beginning, a kind of mini-birth. It is very much like the season of Easter, when part of us dies; there also is new part of us born.
(From Pastor Randy's Pentecost Sermon)
Many people have experienced the "surprise" of something new and fresh peeking out from the debris of mini- death. Sadly our media has been replete with images of significant loss in the wake of this week's tornadoes. For many, the loss is permanent. Life and loved ones are gone.
Happily, for many, the loss is material. Even more happily, for some, what was initially declared destroyed is being found -- pets, friends and family are being returned to the hands and hearts of those who endured hours or days of wondering "is he/she gone forever?"
Across the board, those who testify to the experience of survival speak about the indelible lesson. It goes something like this: This miracle has taught me to value what is really important. Never, ever take love and life for granted. We can rebuild "stuff".
Life will always include mini-deaths. Grief and the hollowness of loss are a part of life, and there is no point in minimizing their impact. However, God's spirit always, always, always invites us to look through the rubble of what seems to have collapsed and see the glimmers of hope and life. When we can't see it individually, we gather in community to remind each other new life is most certainly present -- and we will welcome it even if it dramatically different from the previous (precious) experiences.
One of the fundamental powers and privileges of the church is the capacity to live in hope! We lean towards new life even when we can't see it. Life becomes maximized in the midst of a mini death.