Father Pomroy was away today and Father Paul celebrated the Mass and preached. It was good to see him at the altar, for he has had numerous health problems last six months. Father Paul is our eldest priest, and his wisdom and warmth fill his soul to bursting. His eyes are always alight with good humor, his mouth always curved in a contagious smile, as though the sheer joy of seeing you has made his life complete.
Father Paul reflects God’s love, the way God loves each of us.
It was the second Sunday of our fall Church School program, and after I checked on the children and the newly assembled staff, I entered the red-carpeted nave in time for the reading of the Epistle. I thanked God for his miracles of the past week – each day given, each minute cherished, and most especially the chance to see old friends at a baby shower on Saturday.
Soon Father Paul rose to the pulpit to preach, and just as happens in every sermon, I learned something new, was touched by God. He spoke of the village of Nain where Christ raises a widow’s son to life, the Gospel story today. The folks in Nain recognized the implications of this remarkable act and cried out that a great prophet had risen up, that God had visited his people. Why, Father Paul asked, did they say this? Other miracles do not receive this response in the Gospels. It turns out that in Nain, centuries earlier, the prophet Elijah had raised a widow’s son from death to life. The village had kept the story alive. They remembered their history and saw the significance of their present.
The link between the two raisings of the dead in Nain so many years apart startled me. I gazed at Father Paul at the altar and thought of baby Natalie, nine months, back in the nursery, the two many generations apart. We are so blessed at Saint Peter’s to have among us the very old and the very young, as though time is pulled together into a single heartbeat under our roof. Each person from nine months to ninety is precious and we celebrate that preciousness. And with the celebration of life, we also celebrate two thousand years of story, the miracles and signs given to us through the Church, the Body of Christ, to help in our understanding and our making sense of this life.
Yesterday, Saturday, the past and present collided, slipped into one, at a baby shower given for a childhood friend of my son who is now grown with a family of his own. How good it was to see the generations gather and celebrate this life soon to come into our world, to celebrate marriage and family, and to show our communal support for this great event. I recalled the mother-to-be when she was a little girl and sighed. I recalled my son as well, and all the ups and downs of growing up, she and he and others in their grade tumbling through the years.
I touched the pink smocking on little Natalie’s dress and followed Father Paul as he offered the great sacrifice at the altar, the Holy Eucharist. Father was frail but strong, and his Trinity green cope with its red cross emblazoned on his back marked him as one of Our Lord’s own. He sang the Mass, his voice wavering and thin but full of devotion.
Today my son turns thirty-eight. I gave thanks for his birth in a hospital in Vancouver, Canada. I gave thanks for the loving man he has become, a devoted father and husband, a talented landscape architect. I gave thanks that I had experienced the miracle of birth and motherhood.
And I gave thanks for all the blessings of this life, for this God who loves us so much that he lives with us, in us, pulling us to him in time and place, weaving us into his tapestry of eternity.
I received the Bread of Heaven and returned to my pew, full of happiness, living in the heart of God, complete.