At my church’s Wednesday prayer group, we prayed for those on the weekly list and for others. The names, mostly of people I didn’t know, changed often. But some stayed on the list week after week: Mary, Elmo, Glenn, Joanne and Les.
I’d never met Les but knew of the graveness of his condition. As the months went on, the reports on Les improved. Then one Sunday, I realized that the man with the cane standing in the communion line was Les. Tears streamed down my face.
I have a ritual during communion: I thank God for the blessing of my church and for my friends there. I ask for guidance in my life, that my heart be cleansed and made ready to receive the body and blood. I take the bread and choose the grape juice, thanking God that alcohol no longer runs my life.
Then I move back to my seat and watch the parade of those seeking God through the common elements of bread and wine. I watch for Les, and I remember those who are no longer in the parade.
I know the line is full of joy and of brokenness. There are those who are old or sick, husbands helping wives and wives helping husbands. Babies in parents’ arms and children rescued from the poverty of Haiti. My buddy Lucas who has Down syndrome and Charley with his walker. If I have a seat on the end of the row, I may touch hands with a few as they pass. Some Sundays, I see Les.
As I walk this weekly parade of hope, I know God is there to greet me and each one—in our joy and in our sadness.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers