The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.
~ Psalm 28:7
It's funny how words shared during a sermon can overwhelm me at times. Yesterday was the fourth Sunday of Advent where we were reminded of how God loves each of us. The reminder that, "God so loved us..." involves the life of a young Hebrew girl, the challenge of a relationship between she and the man she was to marry, and then the emergence of a vulnerable child in the makeshift delivery room of a stable. The great lengths that God will go to ensure we know we are loved are beyond words.
I shared with the folks at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Galveston where I serve as their pastor, that I had a hospice patient recently, that when we met we both looked at one another he said, "I know you!"
As I looked at him, his gentle smile and facial expressions reminded me of someone as well. "Yes, we do know one another, but how?"
For the next month when we would see one another we would always find ourselves laughing because we were drawn back to the task of trying to remember where we might have met.
On Friday I spent a few hours with his daughter as he lay dying. I think I had hoped that somehow we would have been able to "figure out," this mystery. She looked at me and smiled with his same smile, "I guess I'm no help at all."
During the night he completed his journey. I called and shared with his daughter on Saturday, "I guess we will never know, now will we?" I surrendered the thought, until I got a call just about an hour later. It was his daughter, along with her sister. "We figured it out! You were the chaplain when our mom was sick years ago at the hospital where she was a patient."
Suddenly it all made sense. Including the year that she was ill, and where I was serving at the time. They had solved the mystery.
The face that I knew then brought me back to the man who I had prayed with as his wife was ill and his telling me that he, "didn't know," what he would do without her.
I realized I was part of their story. God had brought us all together.
Once again, another reminder to the extent that God will go to bring us together. The love of God knows no boundary of time, circumstances, or challenges that we may face. As we light candles in darkened sanctuaries on Christmas Eve, we suddenly come face to face with a small flicker of light, that when shared by many becomes a beacon, casting shadows on walls, and outlines of the very vessels that God now embodies as bearers of that love into the world.
Today I am reminded that "God so loved us," that we now are the vessels of that love into the world.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2019
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.