This Sunday we celebrate Pentecost, the birth of the community of Jesus’ disciples that we call the church. What is this church for today?
There are 2 short poems that, for me, express some of the essence of what the church is meant to be and do: Late Fragment and The Way It Is (adjacent). They tell of the longing to know we are loved - and the importance of staying tuned to the essence of life...throughout life.
In the past month, I have attended two Memorial/Celebration of Life services for members of my family...held in a church Sanctuary, and I can tell you, from my experience and from the many, many comments, that people need, appreciate and respond to sacred space and ritual (at its best) in the tender and vulnerable and meaningful moments in life….Funeral/Memorial/Celebration of Life services and communal time afterwards, are spaces where people can grieve in community. Spaces where they can share what their loved one meant to them. Spaces where it is safe enough to say what is important. Spaces for moments of intimacy. These moments are real and tangible and precious….they speak of being loved...they are moments of holding on to the thread/the essence that lives among things that change.
The church - the gathered community - is made for this (and more). The church has a practice of being able to hold space for grieving, for meaning-making, for being real. Ritual at its best, when it is being and doing what it was meant to be and do, provides a space for us to bring all of who we are into a place where we are met with love and forgiveness and healing. May you know and feel yourself beloved on the earth and may you tend the thread that doesn’t change…and may the church, in all its expressions, empowered by the breath, wind, and flame of the Holy Spirit, be always in the service of this Love.
Grace, Peace, and Confidence in the work of the Holy Spirit.
The Way It Is
There's a thread you follow.
It goes among things that change.
But it doesn't change.
People wonder about what you are pursuing.
You have to explain about the thread.
But it is hard for others to see.
While you hold it you can't get lost.
Tragedies happen; people get hurt
or die; and you suffer and get old.
Nothing you do
can stop time's unfolding.
You don't ever let go of the thread.
And did you get what
you wanted from this life, even so?
And what did you want?
To call myself beloved, to feel myself
beloved on the earth.
“Late Fragment” by Raymond Carver
From A New Path to the Waterfall, Atlantic Monthly Press, 1989.