Preparing for the Lenten season in 2009, pastor Jason Coker carefully crafted a sermon series on the Christian response to pain. When a beloved young man from his congregation died by suicide shortly after Lent began, Coker, his church, and their community were suddenly sharing a very real journey through overwhelming pain and grief.
Using the lens of Coker’s 2009 Lenten sermon series, Faded Flowers navigates the intersection of their church-wide trauma and the theology surrounding such pain. Coker also pairs the sermons with current reflections informed by a decade of recovery and growth, and the result is a moving story of how a pastor and a church loved, suffered, and moved toward healing.
"Borne out of his own pain over a friend who took his life, Jason Coker offers hard-won pastoral wisdom for those who must walk through this particular valley. These reflective sermons are far from theoretical abstractions about pain and suffering; rather, they are deeply theological as he contemplates both the divine and human agency that interplay in every such event. Naming the brutal reality of suicide in church offers a way forward, even redemption."
—Molly Marshall, Retired President Central Seminary
"In the face of suffering, silence comes first in the healing. But when we have to speak into pain, good words are the tools ministers use to shape souls. Jason Coker offers us good words—literally, eulogies or benedictions—that put the heart back into the hurting. Faded Flowers should be on the desk of every pastor as a ready resource for our work."
—George A. Mason, Senior Pastor, Wilshire Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas
"Jason Coker’s Faded Flowers calls to mind Stanley Hauerwas’s observation that, in times of great sorrow, what we need is not answers to our questions, but a “community capable of absorbing our grief.” In the pages of Faded Flowers, we get to watch a community of faith absorb, together, the grief of an unbearable sorrow, and, in the process, learn better how to be such a community ourselves."
—Chuck Poole, Senior Pastor, Northminster Baptist Church, Jackson, Mississippi