Dear Church Family,
Our scripture today is from the beginning of Hebrews 12:
“…since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith…”
Perhaps I have mentioned C.D. Weaver to you. I hope I have. He was a dean at my seminary and an artist who worked in iron. But what made C.D. unforgettable was how he led communion. Whenever it was C.D.’s turn to offer the invitation to the table and the words of institution and the prayers over the bread and wine, he would cry. I have never seen anyone, before then or since, who cried throughout communion like C.D. did. It was part grief and part great joy. When asked about it, C.D. would always say it was because everything was so close in communion; it was overwhelming.
What I think he meant was that, in communion, heaven and earth draw close together. In communion, the saints who have gone before join the living in the pews as we sing and pray. In communion, Jesus is there hosting us all to a meal. In communion, everything is so close. I think C.D. wept because he could feel that when he came to the table.
It reminds me of that great scene at the end of the Sally Fields movie “Places in the Heart.” If you have not seen it, the film is about a woman who becomes widowed and who has to figure out how to get her crops in with no money and little support. She develops an unlikely friendship with a blind man and a would-be thief. In the film we grieve for her when she loses both her husband and then a friend. After many twists and turns, the movie ends in worship. We see communion being passed, pew by pew; first the bread and then the cup. Characters we have loved and characters we have suffered are all taking from the trays and eating together. Finally we see Sally Fields’ character. She takes the bread and passes it…to her husband who had died. Then he then passes it to her deceased friend. The message could not be clearer. In communion, they are there with her, praising God together. No matter their separation in this world, for this short time they are so close.
This Sunday is All Saints Day. It is the holy day that Halloween comes out of. On Sunday we will have communion together and we will celebrate the saints who have gone before and who come close to us at the table of Jesus. And we will lift up prayers of thanksgiving for the encouragement, comfort and strength those saints offer us as we continue to run the race set before us. This communion might bring us to singing and it might bring us to tears but, the Lord promises, it will bring us together.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, you call us to one table to be with you and with those who now rest in you. Give us strength and courage as we continue down the path you have set us down. Give us the perseverance to run the path with hope knowing that you carry us and that your saints cheer us. We give to you our grief over those who have left us to join you. We pray for your comfort in return. In your holy name we ask it. Amen.
Christ’s Peace be with you all,