Yesterday I published a post describing an event my wife and several others from my church hosted. Born into Heaven is meant to memorialize the lives of our Children who never took their first breath. What a needed ministry this is. In this post I’d like to describe what our even looked like. My hope is that many of you reading this post will copy us. I’ve never heard of an event like this, but as one who was personally touched by what happened this last Saturday, I’d suggest hosting an event like this. Let this description serve as inspiration for your own version that addresses your unique community.

Saturday was a beautiful spring day, so this event was held in the “Garage,” one of our larger gathering places that is connected to our cafe and has large glass garage doors that open up to our church courtyard. Several women purchased and baked cookies as snacks and others arranged to pick up free (donated) pastries and bagels from Panera Bread. So there was a huge assortment of cookies and breads with water, lemonade and coffee. The service began at 10:00 AM and one of our Teaching Pastors took the stage and told his story of loss. He shared how he and his wife lost their first two children to miscarriage. I don’t know how everyone else in the room felt, but as he told his story, I totally connected with the story and with his pain.

After the welcome, one of Gateway’s bands came up and played/sung “Shadow of the Day” by Linkin Park. This wasn’t a second rate ensemble for a last minute Saturday event, but 5-7 musicians who did an incredible job with this song. Next, a woman came up to read a poem called “Time and Space.” The poem was written by a woman who attends Gateway, but wasn’t yet ready to attend this event. The poem was about the grief of her decision to have an abortion earlier in life and the healing that God is doing in her life now. The woman who read the poem briefly shared how she two had experienced an abortion and God had healed her of the emotional scars of that decision.

Next, my wife came to share our story. She began the story by talking about our adventure of climbing Pikes Peak last September and how we found ourselves in the midst of a hail storm and white out near the top of the mountain. Even though we could no longer see our path, cairns (intentional stacks of stones left by previous visitors) marked the way. She shared how cairns mark pathways though the wilderness, they mark mountain summits and they memorialize the dead. She went on to share our journey of miscarriage after miscarriage, both before and after having our beautiful son.

After Sara shared her story, Rick, the Teaching Pastor who opened the service shared a wonderful message about Mary. He describes how she must have felt, standing at the cross, watching her son die. When we read the story, we often see it at 30,000 feet. We see how it was the fulfillment of prophecy and the forgiveness of sins and that just one page later, he comes back to life. Yet how often do we put ourselves in Mary’s pain and sorrow. It was a beautiful message that allowed our pain to connect with the scripture.

Finally, another woman came forward to share her story. Five years ago she lost her little girl at the very end of her pregnancy and experienced a still birth. She shared how God really met her in that moment and began healing her heart shortly after the experience. After sharing her story, she referenced back to Sara’s story about cairns as objects to mark our way and memorize the dead. She instructed that while the band played again, we could take the markers and the smooth stones that made up the centerpieces at our tables and memorialize our children who were born into heaven. We could write their names, due dates or anything else memorable and then place them in the vase in the courtyard. Sara and I took five stones and wrote the names we’ve given to all of our children and placed the first stones in the vase. While the band played, others did the same.

In the end, people stayed around to talk and share their stories. There was a representative from one of Gateway’s grief ministries to connect people into appropriate groups if needed. People trickled out shortly after and went about their days. In all, the service lasted about 90 minutes. We did offer childcare up to 2nd grade. With only two full weeks to plan and promote this event, nearly 50 people participated. Not bad for a first run with very little promotion. Many people heard about the service from family and friends and came from as far as Houston to be involved. The following day, the cairn was placed in the auditorium lobby where others could add their stones to memorialize the short and quite lives of their children.

Tomorrow I’ll share some resources including programs, pictures and anything else I can muster up.