Coming together

Sunday we had quite a day! Yes, we had our “normal” Sunday morning service, and that was a good experience. But there was more.

Right after the service we quickly changed our sanctuary set-up into our fellowship hall set-up (they’re both the same room) and prepared for our potluck. This wasn’t just any potluck…it was the beginning of the memorial service activities for a member of our congregation who had died a little over a week ago. He didn’t have a conventional home–not because his family didn’t care for him. They did, but for whatever reason, he chose not to live with them. He found a home in our congregation–and brought other members of his community as well.

Initially they joined us because of our potlucks. And so we began our memorial service with a potluck in honor of Dave…and also, because Jesus–even as he was preparing for the difficult end of his life–took time to break bread with those he loved.

We gathered–and filled the room! We had been unsure how many would be there–and whether we would have enough food. So we had been praying for a loaves and fishes miracle…and we received that blessing before we ever began! We had food coming out of the woodwork! We had food enough to feed everyone as much as they wanted–and enough leftovers to send home with those who needed food for the next couple of meals.

We had members of all of Dave’s communities there–his birth family, his church family, his high school friends, and his homeless community. For someone who didn’t seem to have too much, there were many lives that he had touched.

We shared in a drama–a drama that ended in the hope of Christ’s healing love for all of God’s children…even the ones who seem to be the lost.

And we sang–sang of the hope to be found in God.

We didn’t all come from the same backgrounds or faith traditions. But we drew together because we had been touched by one person’s life…a person who didn’t seem to have much to give (at least as it would seem to the world), but who gave of himself in so many ways–caring and concerned about those whom he came in contact with…a minister of presence.

He touched lives we didn’t even know about. Our youngest grandson has had some difficult life issues–and we didn’t know he had spent much time with Dave. But during the service, he was drawing a special picture for Dave’s mother–a picture that says that Dave touched him in a meaningful way. (If you open it in a new window, you can see a larger version of it.)

Perhaps the words that Dave’s nephew shared with us speak most profoundly of the ways Dave brought us together:

On behalf of the family of David; I would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude for the powerful words of friendship you have shared with us over the past few days. Your kind words have offered comfort to our hearts; and have made present the very real meaning of what it means for the people of God to be a church.

Perhaps you know; our family comes from the Roman Catholic tradition, however, you welcomed us into the Community of Christ with ‘Open Arms.’ This gesture highlights what it means to be a church, and indeed what it means to be the collective Body of Christ. Perhaps the most powerful display of praise was indeed the coming together of two faith traditions to celebrate Dave’s life; but all the more powerful to celebrate a loving and steadfast God.

Your efforts to bring comfort to Dave’s life did not go unnoticed in this world, and will certainly not go unrewarded in the world to come. You have lived the words of the Gospel, in that you gave dignity, compassion, and comfort to “the least of His.” Your compassion for the alienated of our community is a testament to the good work the Lord has begun in your ministry.

Our hearts are filled with the great promise of salvation, both for Dave, and indeed for all of us who profess the power of our Living and True God. Let us continue to pray for one another; as we seek the healing power of the Spirit of the Living Christ.