Then we shall see face to face...

Earlier today I read a reflection by a colleague describing how a stained glass window of Christ the Good Shepherd shaped much of his childhood faith. Indeed, it came to serve as an icon - a visual prayer - of God's abiding grace as childhood gave way to adulthood. As good devotionals are meant to do, my own recollections of early experiences in the church were evoked - especially how they nourished my walk with the Lord over the past 50 years - as this morning ripened.

Stained glass didn't speak to me in my youth nor did much in our simple
Congregational "liturgy" including traditional hymnody, Scripture or spoken prayer. No, what has always grabbed my attention and taken me to places greater than my imagination and reason has been Eucharist and what I've come to call "soul music." I remember vividly sitting in our old, plain white meeting house holding a small cube of Pepperidge Farm egg white bread with eighty others one Sunday morning when I was about 15. Who knows why but in that moment I was resting in what Calvin has described as the mystical truth of Holy Communion:  simultaneously I was at peace with the body of Christ all around me in our Connecticut church, I was united beyond time with those on heaven and earth, I was lifted into the living presence of Jesus in heaven and I was fully aware that these realities were only part of a much greater truth that would never be fully comprehensible. 

And this has only matured over 50 years. Today I have modest theological categories to help me grasp what I experienced - and I have decades of mystical experience, too - but still I believe that "now we see as through a glass darkly." I also trust by faith that "then we shall see face to face."


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