The communion of saints

This past weekend, I was surrounded by fellow sojourners–fellow sufferers. All of us gathered in a setting intoxicated with beauty. Yet, into this setting we all came with our pain, perplexities, and limps. Each couple was there because we had all lost children to the death of the body. Some had wounds more fresh than others, and in others scars had begun to form. We all wept. We all questioned. We all dared to hope in the promises of God. We prayed. We mourned. We laughed. We ate. We listened to the gospel of Jesus.

And the Kingdom of God was in our midst.

I have heard it said from AA participants that the AA setting is a real depiction of what the body of Christ should be. I know and understand the depth of this characterization. This weekend I was with the church of Jesus–followers of the way, those who hope in the full redemption of God. This weekend, we did what the early church community did together. We prayed, we ate, we talked, and we heard the teachings of Jesus and His apostles from the Scriptures. I can’t imagine anything more or less we could have done to receive the Kingdom this weekend.

And to think, as we, by God’s grace, received the Kingdom together, a cloud of witnesses was surrounding us. Our children are not dead. Our God is not the God of the dead but of the living. Our children, my Jude, who I long for in this life, is indeed fully alive. He is with God, under God’s reign, as fully in the embrace of God as I am. He, too, has received the Kingdom. In faith, I am hopeful that Jude, and the other children I have come to know this weekend, somehow, some way, knew of the gathering this weekend, and were not far from the love of their parents. I can not say this in absolute certainly, but with the mind of faith I can certainly hope this was the case. I can believe. I am thankful for the communion of the saints.

Thanks be to God for these special people who came into my life this weeked. As we said good-bye, I wept internally. I miss the church. We all promised to stay in touch, and I pray we do. In our sojourning, I pray we stay deeply connected.

I am thankful for the communion of saints.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer says it perfectly

“There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve — even in pain — the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain.”