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January 18 Post


Funerals are always instructive. We learn so much about living by how we remember those who have died. At a recent memorial service for someone outside our faith community, one of the speakers described the deceased as someone who expressed joy and embodied love. It occurred to me that these are the marks of Christian life. Of all the things that may be or will be said of us after we’re gone, what greater tribute could there be, but this?

I’ve been intrigued lately by a book called: “A Year to Live: How to Live as if it Were Your Last,” by Stephen Levine. As a Buddhist practitioner, Stephen led many retreats about this topic prior to his own death just a few years ago. Reading the book made me curious about how we might live differently as Christians if we imagined we had one year to live.

The point of the book of course, is that we prepare to die so that we can more fully live. Having developed a series of spiritual practices over the course of a year that include letting go of everything important in order to embrace the essential, Levine encourages participants to fully live that way once the year is up.

As a Christian, some of our spiritual practices differ from his, and we may ask different questions. Nevertheless, the work occupies enough of my mental real estate to wonder if some of you might want to join me in a conversation about this during Lent, which begins about a month from today.

You can order the book, or not. In any case, I’ll be offering a weekly class during Lent on Mondays at 6:30 p.m., bringing in other resources to help us discern how to face our common mortality in order to live our best life.
I’m a visionary and a planner, always thinking years out about where God is leading and how God is guiding us to get there. The work of this class is different than that, and will be a little uncomfortable for me as it may be for you. The word for this class is not “future”, or “past”, but “presence”.

I suspect that maybe, just maybe, if I could learn to be more fully present to every essential moment and relationship, then it will more likely be said of me when I’m gone, “She expressed joy and embodied love.” If you want that said of you when your day comes, join me at the Community Church of Vero Beach or via zoom starting February 27.
God’s grace, mercy and peace,

Dr. Anna V. Copeland
Senior Minister, Community Church of Vero Beach

Posted by Rev. Dr. Anna. V. Copeland

The Rev. Dr. Anna V. Copeland comes to us from three large churches where she served as Senior Minister for nearly three decades: in Colorado, the Chicago area, just north of Boston in York, Maine, and most recently as Pastor in Residence in San Miguel, Mexico. Dr. Copeland graduated with a Master's Degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Nebraska, a Master of Divinity from Yale University Divinity School, and a Doctor of Ministry from Chicago Theological Seminary. Through worship, teaching and writing, she seeks to equip people of faith to think theologically about the world in which we live, to follow the Way of Jesus, and to share God's grace, mercy and peace with all God's people.

Together with her husband Dr. Ellis Copeland, Anna Copeland founded The Copeland Institute of northwest Boulder County in Colorado, a retreat center for deep faith work. She also has served as Trustee for The Chicago Theological Seminary, adjunct faculty for the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and as a Trustee for The Fund for Theological Education out of Atlanta.

Dr. Copeland has led international mission trips to Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Cuba, and faith journeys to Israel, Turkey and Greece. Avocations for Anna Copeland include wilderness adventures such as a women's' trek in the Arctic Circle, mountain climbing, skiing and kayaking. And she enjoys experiencing exceptional food and conversation that celebrate the feast of friendship and the feast of life.

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