On Sunday, I visited the local Episcopal church to witness the confirmation service. St. John’s is the oldest in the city, built in 1866. I struggled just a bit keeping up with the service – when to sit, when to respond, which book to use – and yet the presence of honor and worship was so sweet that my bumbling couldn’t matter. Christ is loved there and you can almost hear the voices of decades before reading the prayers with a bowing of the knees.
Instructions in the bulletin helped me know how to hold my hands to receive the bread when I went forward, knees first, for communion: “To receive the consecrated bread, extend your hands upward, palms crossed.”
As I knelt before a cross where the holiness of God is lavish love, I thought about the times when what came to me made me want to clench my fists and refuse it. I was so thankful for Christ’s own struggle with receiving His role from the Father, and in submission allowing me to not only have life, but to fill my role in the Father’s design – thankful and able because of His open hands and outstretched arms.
There still are circumstances difficult to accept, but the more I open my hands to receive, the more I feel His grace on the gift. Some gifts, dressed like problems, are situations that may take years or require major change, filled with challenge, but with His presence and grace, He helps me be thankful. Eucharist is thanksgiving and I celebrate it! With every challenge that comes, my trust in Him grows.
My hands are more open than they used to be.
Note: I attended St. John’s to honor the confirmation of William Douglas, a high school senior, who has had every reason to be disappointed and angry. He has survived much rejection and family difficulty, and learned to look to the Father and receive from Him. He is gifted with an amazing outlook on life and expects the best from God and finds He still blesses in abundance.
My mother’s former piano and organ pupil, William is a gifted musician and plans to study organ performance after a year at St. John’s as music minister intern. He is an example of open hands and a heart of expectation. His Heavenly Father smiles upon him as He shows him a future filled with hope, and we are blessed as we watch William allowing God to heal and lead. His life is an inspiration.
On the left, William with his grandparents, and then Will with Bishop Lawrence, after Sunday’s service.
(c) October 31, 2011 – Robin Lawrimore