I was dressing for church this morning, I said that I would settle for a one-bit excuse to stay home. I was not in the best of moods and had a very stiff neck and shoulders. I honestly felt that God would not miss me suffering in his pew this morning. Amazing how wrong I can always be when making excuses before God.
When I first entered the nave, I saw that there would be a baptism which is never a favorite moment. I played nice before the service, being the consummate member of the vestry. Then my misery began to fall apart. I first notice one of my friends, call her Jeannette, holding what appeared to be an newborn. The smile on Jeannette’s face made me smile, cracking through my self-imposed misery. Then the family that usually sits in front of us entered; the mother, call her Karen, turned, saw Jeannette, and broke into the widest overwhelming, open-mouthed smile that caused a wave of true pleasure overtake me.
After our deacon, Carey, read from the Gospels, the most wonderful vision crushed what was left of my negativism this morning. Father Joe stepped down the top stair to stand in front of the congregation for his homily. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find Joe to be a much more effective preacher of the word of God when he steps away from the pulpit. I love all of Joe’s sermons, but this morning, I had the image of Jesus walking up the hill to sit on a tree stump for his Sermon on the Mount.
When Joe speaks without his written sermon, his words are not so practiced as to detract from what God is saying to me. I believe that the words that God puts into Joe’s mouth affect me and others in many ways; however, when speaking without a written script, his words take on added meaning, as did Jesus’ reading the Beatitudes to the five thousand. His words came from God, through his heart, to allow us to hear what God is saying to us individually. Both on the mountain two thousand years ago and this morning, several hours ago.
By the end of the homily, my sour mood and neck discomfort was a distant memory. When the baptism occurred, I was overtaken by the innocence of the child, and the wonderment in his eyes as Joe blessed the baptismal water. For those of us close enough, the infectious joy on the baby’s face could not be missed. Then the celebratory prayer had special meaning for me. As the celebrant asked if we would continue in the apostle’s teaching, resist evil, proclaim the Gospel, seek to serve Christ, and strive for justice and peace, my response was joyously, I will, with God’s help.
After receiving communion, I did something that I never in my wildest dreams thought was possible. I joined the healing prayer minister and prayed for our president. He has spent a few days visiting those whose lives have been devastated by Harvey’s anger. I perceived a very mild change in President Trump’s demeanor, and that of his wife. Perhaps he can change. I prayed that God would open Trump’s eyes and heart to the reality of the needy (Joe’s homily) in our society. In order for us to succeed as the people of God, this is vital. Heavenly Father, please help your child, my brother, Donald overcome his human failings and take up Your cross to assist those who need Your special Love.
Singing the Communion Hymn lifted me O Lord, hear my prayer, O Lord, hear my prayer. When I call, answer me. O Lord, hear my prayer, O Lord, hear my prayer, Come and listen to me.
The one-bit excuse I was hoping for was too much to pay for what I wished at nine o’clock this morning. There is no amount of riches that would have been sufficient for me to miss what God, and my brothers and sisters, did for me this morning.
Thanks be to God!