Phil 4:12-14, 19-20
Mt 22:1-14 or 22:1-10
Recently I was asked to do a memorial service for a friend’s brother. The memorial service was held in a nearby town at a funeral home. The circumstance of this man’s death was both too soon and very unexpected. After meeting with the young man’s family it was very clear to me that I needed to be present for the grief that would make itself known throughout the service. Simply said, it was very important to feel and seek to be a vessel of God’s loving presence.
The memorial service had all the components of a Saturday Night Live skit. The urn did not arrive until just before the service and the sound system did not work until the very last song of the service. This also meant that the DVD’s sound was silent as the projector placed the deceased in constant motion, without a voice to inform those gathered what he was saying.
None of these absences were planned. A certain degree of anxiety piled up as the family members wondered how might I work with all of the unexpected challenges. I wondered that as well.
In the second reading from Paul to the Philippians on Sunday October 12th, he tells the readers of his letter: Phil 4:12-14, 19-20
Brothers and sisters: I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live with abundance. In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need. I can do all things in him who strengthens me. Still, it was kind of you to share in my distress.
My God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father, glory forever and ever. Amen.
Paul invites us to trust that we have whatever we need for any circumstance. He does not say it will be easy and even that it will go well. He speaks specifically about knowing how “to live in humble circumstances…and later he tells them “My God will fully supply whatever you need…”
So for me this reading touched that place in me that stood before a group of mourners seeking solace a few weeks ago. It reminded me of how I wanted to be a vehicle of healing for those who mourned. So I drew in a deep breath and exhaled a breath of anxiety, and later a breath of not being enough. However, the breath that entered me was not of my making, it came from a God of creativity and possibility.
I looked out to the gathered and I invited them to nod their heads when they were able to hear his deep and affections laugh…and they did. Next, I invited them to remember their last good visit with him and nod their head when that memory came forth…and they did. Finally, as I watched their concern faces melt into a smile and their physical bodies relax into their chairs, I invited them to feel this young man’s presence in a visceral manner.
The earlier anxiety which seemed to be dancing around the room for us was gone and instead the light of his presence filled all of us. Finally, I invited the gathered to become the chorus and join in singing “This little Light of Mine.” I think what Paul is reminding me through this reading and through that memorial service is this; God’s healing presence is not dependent on technology, but rather the profound human experience of connecting through memory.
As this week unfolds, may I be open to all the ways in which God breaks through in the simple and the ordinary.