Today I survived another Sunday without taking out Jesus. In seriousness, today was our Sunday for Laying on of Hands and Anointing. In my home parish I am not sure how many people would get out of their pews and come forward. In this parish, I think it was everyone. Coming forward for a laying on of hands and anointing with oil , the sign of the cross in the name of our Lord. And it was clearly very moving for people to hear a word of forgiveness and healing. And very moving for me to serve in this way.
And I said I would stay for a choir practice. There were 6 of us. Unlike in my home church where we have a library of anthems, here we are singing a two verse hymn in With One Voice. And it would happen that this is originally a Hispanic hymn. And it would happen that I know some Spanish. Could I sing in Spanish so people can hear it?
So next Sunday they will sing a verse and I will sing it in Spanish. And then we will so the same for the second verse. Everyone knows they will have no idea if I say correctly, but in their way this is becoming aware of others. Many churches with anthem libraries would not do as much.
And today the children put dimes, nickels and pennies into ELCA Hunger Appeal envelopes during the childrens sermon on the poor man. And I know a church with an anthem library that did nothing to make the message become action.
They may be small and they may have limited resources, but these people are a flock that is trying.
After church I had some time before the corn maze outing. I went out into the very large cemetery. It has been there since the 1800's and one can learn much about a people there. I found a couple Civil War veterans. One died of thyphoid fever in a Civil War hospital. Of the several World War veterans, one died in combat that I saw. Then I came across a large obelisk of a family. One two sides were the names of 5 children who had either died at birth or within the first year or so. On another side was the name of the wife, Susannah. She died at 34. Then I started doing the math. The youngest child died after her. But when? By two months. Child number 6 - she died in childbirth and the child two months after. No children survived.
When we think of the lives of the faithful, and put it into the context of the parent who has just gotten that knock on the door or telegram from the Defense Department,"We regret to inform you..." or the family of one who died alone in a hospital and news came by letter much later, or the husband who has buried six children and his bride, how much they must have endured and yet remained here in the faith.
Today I see men and women whose spouses struggle with illness, whose children labor with adversity. Yet here they are, wanting to understand the larger world, and put their change in envelopes for change. And they come forward believing in God's saving grace, forgiveness and promises. Come Holy Spirit.