Last Sunday, my mom and I went to church together. We went to what I call, "the late late late service or the "Episcopal Light" service.
At my church, we have four services on Sunday morning. The services run the gamut from traditional to not-so-traditional to quasi-traditional. It's easy to find your niche at my church. We have a Saturday service as well which is very casual and geared toward families. Anyway. The final service on Sunday morning is a quickie. No music, straight liturgy, quick sermon and a fast-paced communion. If you want the express route to God, this is the service for you.
So my mom and I joined about 12 other people last Sunday. The Reverend was a visiting chaplain from a local hospital; a man I'd never seen before in our church. He was older (70-ish) and verrrrryyyyyyyy gay. We're a pretty liberal lot so this wasn't surprising, in the least.
The Reverend left the podium early on in the service and delivered his message straight from the aisle in between the pews and to quote Renee Zellweger from Jerry Maguire: "He had me at hello."
This man was not only brilliant in his knowledge of the Bible, but in the way that he wove together modern day sadness and struggles, profoundly and with raw emotion. I don't recall blinking. I was riveted.
I won't bore you with the details of his sermon, but here is the point that stayed with me: There is always strength in surrender. I needed to hear this, because lately, I've felt that surrender is a little too closely tied to despair.
The time came in the service to "pass the peace," that is, turn to your neighbor and shake their hand. The Reverend came right to me and took my hands in his. "Thank you for your eyes," he said. (I guess I didn't blink, after all!) Later in the service, he paused as he blessed my wafer during communion. He took my hand again and squeezed it. And at last, when we filed out of the cathedral, he asked me my name. I told him and then I thanked him for being with us. Then we (my mom and I) went to the Co-Op and grabbed lunch, all the while talking about what a blessing the visiting reverend was.
I've never had anything like this happen to me. I'm usually the one in church who is pretending to pray while "resting" my eyes or glazing over completely during the lengthy Prayers of the People (love the Episcopal Church dearly but that liturgy can be oh-so-boring, at times!).
During my week, I found myself drifting back to that connection from Sunday and being thankful, and perhaps even reverent, for such a deep and meaningful connection.