Good and Beautiful Things

One Friday in October the Rev. Dr. Kate Bowler from Duke University addressed a room of neighbors, community leaders, friends, and cancer survivors. A cancer survivor herself, she talked honestly about how our culture isn’t kind about the rough edges that each of us has.

We live in a culture that believes “everything happens for a reason” and that if we believe hard enough, or have the right faith, we will only experience perfection in our lives. And she exposed that sentiment as a lie, saying, “Perfection isn’t possible, but transformation is.”

As Bowler spoke, she applauded the “good and beautiful things” that our community is doing to accompany each other in the times after a cancer diagnosis. And I thought of the many people here at Grace who have experienced that moment, or another life-changing situation, and the care that is available through our own congregation.

You know we have public prayers, and that list is made up of members, family and friends who have requested prayer. Our prayer ministry team also prays with worshipers one Sunday each month during Holy Communion. But public prayer isn’t the only way we care for one another.

Every week, we have prayer network participants praying for needs that have been shared with our staff, and we have a group of volunteers who write personal cards to encourage people. Most weeks, we also deliver the altar flowers to someone to remind them we have this whole community at Grace who loves them.

Often that love is embodied by volunteers.

One of my favorite stories happened last winter. A woman who is widowed and doesn’t drive at night wanted to come to the Wednesday night Bible study. Some conversations happened and suddenly, someone was giving her a ride, and they added a third person, too. The trio of friends would eat dinner together and participate in the Bible study and return home. This scenario plays out more often than you might guess as people encounter vision or mobility challenges that make driving unsafe.

I also hear regularly from our volunteers who take Holy Communion to congregation members who cannot participate in worship in person any longer. The volunteers, who we call “banquet bearers”, bring Holy Communion, but they also bring a chance to catch up on congregation news, to talk about what is going on in each other’s lives, and to learn each other’s stories. When we talk about faith with our confirmands, we talk about the way our faith in Christ anchors us in life; these visits are an anchor in the lives of those who are homebound.

One Sunday after worship recently, I saw a congregation member wrapped in a prayer shawl and heard how she’d received the shawl some years back when she was going through a difficult time. She remembered the person who made the shawl by name. We have handmade shawls available, and anyone can get one to give to someone who needs to be wrapped in love at that moment in their lives. A note from the ministry identifies who knit the shawl. We also have quilts, remembering that sometimes, paying for heat in the winter months is challenging and an extra layer of warmth brings a lot of comfort.

I hope you have a glimpse of some of the “good and beautiful things” that happen every day at Grace. Life has rough edges and perfection is not possible. Showing up and loving each other is.

Pastor Christina Auch

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