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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Remembering our dead

Rituals express gratitude for their lives and for our memories

As All Saints' Day approaches, we find ourselves thinking about how we remember the dead in our culture. After Sept. 11, 2001, a cement square in New York City's Union Square Park almost overnight became a shrine filled with thousands of votive candles. The fence around St. Paul's Chapel near ground zero was covered with letters, photographs, prayers, banners, posters, teddy bears and T-shirts.

Such a public display of memorial-building may be reserved for national tragedies. But the ritual of consciously remembering loved ones who have passed away is an important spiritual practice in all our lives. It brings death into the context of our daily experience and reminds us that, as Christians, we know that dying is not the end.


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