The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Wholly and holy different

I kidnapped Pastor Ray one Sunday last summer.

Against objections that it wasn't worth the hassle to break him out of the nursing home for an hour of worship that he wouldn't remember, and against the accusation that I was doing this more for me than for him, I kidnapped dad. I literally lifted him from his wheelchair and plopped him into my car for the drive to church. 

In the first three minutes and while still in the narthex, he received eight handshakes, five hugs and three kisses. 

He slept 48 of the 58 minute-worship service, holding my hand. He woke to sing "I Love to Tell the Story." Then he slept again. He woke to pass the peace and, when three different women reached out to shake his hand, he clasped their hands and wouldn't let go. 

I'd been told he couldn't feed himself anymore, but he reached out his hand for the bread and wine. This was somehow wholly and holy different. 

After "Go in peace. Serve the Lord," he whispered — mouthed, really — a weak "Thanks be to God." Then he closed his weary eyes.

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February issue


Embracing diversity