the communion of the saints

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we found it on the passenger seat.  a gift-wrapped box, left in the car while we were at worship.

the note on the lid read:  "life is like a box of chocolates."

corny, i thought, but sweet.

a bit like our church community itself.  they had been so warm, welcoming us home from the hospital with night after night of home-cooked meals in the weeks after dylan was born.   they oohed and ahhed over the baby and showered her with generous gifts. she would grow to be "their" baby, too.

there were so few young families, and we were the lone twenty-somethings at the little country church.  most everyone in the congregation was old enough to be our grandparents or parents.  it was nothing like the youthful church we'd worshiped at in the city.  there was nary a drum set or hipster to be found anywhere.

i missed the music that made my hands lift in worship, but my soul soaked up the Word in liturgy.  when our priest came to our home to say a blessing over our tiny beautiful girl, my heart swelled, and i knew that the ministry of presence is far greater than fleeting glamor.

we waited until we got home to open the package.  i tore open the paper and found a card.

your family is a blessing.  thank you for your ministry.  merry christmas.

the card was unsigned, and inside was a stack of bills.  i counted and my jaw dropped. 

my hands held one thousand dollars.  ten crisp one hundred dollar bills.

we were less than six weeks into parenthood.  less than six week into adjusting to one salary.  we didn't have a peer group at our church or friends to grab a drink with, but we had family--older people who were praying for us, loving our child, and providing for our needs without our even having to articulate them.  our own families lived so many miles away, and to be loved so deeply by our church community meant more than they could know.

love like that is what it means to be the Church. 

Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
     no hands but yours,
     no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which to look out
     Christ's compassion to the world
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about
     doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.
St. Teresa of Avila

so much shouting, so much laughter

your turn!  we're telling tales of the broken, beautiful Church, that you may you be encouraged by stories of God at work in our midst and grace lived out.  link a post or share a story in the comments.  next tuesday to link any story (not just of the Church) in our recurring storytelling community.

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