In 2016, after a valiant battle with prostate cancer, a great friend of mine, Thom Wilson transitioned from this world into the Church Triumphant. To this day, he remains as one of the most formative (influential) individuals in my faith journey. On my last visit with Thom and his wife Leann, the three of us gathered at their dining table and shared communion together. It was one of the most moving and meaningful experiences of my life. As we moved to the table and took our seats with Thom at the head, Leann was seated at his right hand and I sat across the table from her. Think of it as a triangle of friends.
When it came time for us to receive, I asked Leann to serve Thom. She took a small piece of flatbread, dipped it in a small potted mug filled with juice, and carefully offered these gifts to her husband. He slowly chewed the gifts and swallowed. Then Thom, weakened, but more than willing, tore off a small piece of the bread and dipped it into the cup. In his depleted state he was struggling to lift the bread up to Leann’s mouth. So she took his hand and helped him lift it to her mouth. They both served me—Leann the bread, and Thom with his hands around the cup he couldn’t lift. It’s the kind of thing that married couples do for one another, in a variety of ways, throughout the course of their shared-life. It’s the sort of thing we do in the Body of Christ.
Through all the ups and downs of life in this world, the silent but visible manifestation of faithfulness is a witness to a greater grace. As Frederick Buechner describes it:
They say they will love, comfort, honor each other to the end of their days. They say they will cherish each other and be faithful to each other always. They say they will do these things not just when they feel like it, but even for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health—when they don’t feel like it at all. In other words, the vows they make at a marriage could hardly be more extravagant. They give away their freedom. They take on themselves each other’s burdens.
Together, at the table, we gave thanks and remembered a faithfulness that was/is on full display in this world in Jesus. Through their self-giving, and their sharing, that faithfulness continues to be on display…
… we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us … By your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world, until Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly banquet … ~The UMC Great Thanksgiving
What a banquet that will be … with glimpses, on occasion, in the here and now!
Blessings and Peace!