whoever offers a cup of water in my name...

Yesterday at midday Eucharist another guest joined the regulars. She had wandered in to join us about 8 months ago. At that time, she was agitated and uncomfortable, fidgeting and having a tough time concentrating.  She made it through one gathering, but had to book the following week. We've held her close in our thoughts and prayers ever since and yesterday she returned. More composed. More grounded. But still troubled.  As our weekly lectio divina on Luke 6 started to wrap up on a passage concerning loving our enemies and forgiving those who hurt you, our new/old friend asked: Is there a prayer or something I can say to help me get in the spirit of forgiving?

For a few seconds, the Chancel of the Sanctuary froze in time. A silence, pregnant with possibilities and wrought with need, joined us, too.  And then, without missing a beat, one of the regulars spoke up saying that forgiveness is the toughest challenge any of us face. A nod of understanding spread over us all before she continued: " I think forgiveness is a gift from God. You can get yourself ready by praying the Lord's Prayer but it is the hardest thing we can do." When the questioner looked puzzled, I continued, "The Lord's Prayer is a great one to use - I'll give you a copy when we're done - but there's another even simpler prayer you might practice.  It doesn't create forgiveness, but it gets you ready to experience it. Use your breath.  Breathe in to the word - Jesus - breathe out to the word - peace. Just keep doing that over and over, wherever you go. And in time you will begin to find yourself letting go of some of the fears and resentments." 

For a long 30 seconds she stared at me in silence. Was this just more spiritual bullshit? Was this old guy trying to blow me off? Then, a little smile came softly as she nodded, "Yeah... I think that might work." We then gathered around the table, prayed the Eucharistic Prayer together and passed one another the bread and the cup of salvation. After singing "Seek Ye First" to bring things to and end,  I showed her where on the communion liturgy print-out she could find the Lord's Prayer and asked her to take it home. "You might also use the 'Lamb of God' prayer, too. It's easy to remember and printed right here..."

Some days you never know, right? There is a ton of pain all around us - in our own hearts as well as in the walking wounded who pass us by on the streets - and you never know when you might be able to share a taste of God's peace.  One of the reasons I persist in celebrating this raggedy Eucharist most Wednesdays at 12:10 pm is to offer people a warm, quiet and tender safe space in the heart of all our busyness. It is an invitation to shalom, a love that is greater than our fears, if only for 45 minutes.  Such activity doesn't "make sense." It is not part of a church growth strategy or even an act that advances financial stability for our congregation. Still...

Whoever welcomes you, welcomes me, Jesus said; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward. (Matthew 10: 40-42)

I wonder what today will bring...?


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