A series of biblical readings and prayers from David L. Miller, senior pastor of St. Timothy Lutheran Church, Naperville, IL. David is the former editor of The Lutheran magazine and Director of Spiritual Formation at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than
life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your
Ronnie fell into my arms as we both wept tears of
sorrow. We’d just laid his beloved Peggy to rest the previous week. He’d lost his
partner of 65 years, wondering how he could ever go on.
Now, here he was, lumbering up the communion line to
the front of the sanctuary, cane in hand, his miserable hip giving him pain
with every step.
At the front, I wrapped the bread in the linen in
which I held it so I could wrap him in my arms. The moment, the place, the
intimacy of sharing the bread of life, provided a container, a holy vessel,
where the bubbling cauldron of emotions we shared could spill out and be held
in loving reverence.
Everyone present would understand even if they knew
nothing of what Ronnie has just gone through.
For we were gathered in a sanctuary expansive and
gracious enough to hold us and everything that is in us—pain, sorrow, confusion,
hope, joy and especially love, great love that needed tears not words that
could be shared in a place where they would be honored and considered holy.
This was the moment and this the place big enough,
safe enough, gracious enough where great sorrow and great love could meet and
be transposed into an even higher key where love shared becomes the Love who
holds and heals every wound of ours.
This is Holy Communion where hearts shared know the
Heart who shares everything truly good and loving with us.
Where else does this happen? Where else can it happen?
In this cynical world, what other space—except maybe a 12-step recovery group—invites
our vulnerability, offering sanctuary to our tears where great love and hope
can be shared unashamed?
The sanctuary that held us was not a room but a people
who gather to receive a grace and be made into grace that they might become the
human beings they were always intended be and, at our best, that we actually
want to be.
For a moment we were those people, Ronnie and me, and everyone
present and looking on, too. We knew the Love who gathered us that we might
finally become ourselves.