|Here are a couple of scenes played out at Christ Church in the last few months that have warmed my heart.
1. I found a matchbox toy truck on the slate mantel in our Memorial Garden. Odd. I figured it had been left behind by a child, but it was still in its original packaging. I turned it over and saw handwriting on the back of the packaging.
"A prayer for peace," it read, and an entire prayer was written out.
I showed the truck to Ainslie Wall, our receptionist at church. "Another one?" she said. "That makes five now."
Flowers are often left in the garden to honor and remember a loved one whose ashes are buried there. Sometimes a flag or Christmas decoration. But not toy trucks.
One truck every few weeks. Each in its original packaging. And each with a prayer written on the back. Some prayers were personal, and some for all people. One prayer added, "I hope someone can enjoy our family tradition of cars."
2. "Who is that digging in our backyard?"
Matt Holcombe and two of our college-age parishioners, Denny Cmiel and Owen Copps (whom Matt got to know well on their 10th grade pilgrimage together), showed up unannounced at Fred and Winston Paschall's home and pulled weeds and planted flowers in their yard. Winston has been undergoing treatment for cancer for over a year. She was one of the first to welcome and love on Matt's family when they first arrived at Christ Church.
3. At the second annual Christ Church Karaoke Night, families with young children attended. There were lots of brave and first time participants, but my personal favorite was when Chip Abbott and his children, Wilson and Jorie, ages 10 and 7, stood up together and belted out Bon Jovi's "Living on a Prayer." Here's a reminder of those inspiring lyrics:
We've gotta hold on to what we've got. It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not. We've got each other and that's a lot. For love, we'll give it a shot.
4. I received a video last week of parishioner, Bill Palmer, ringing the bell after his last radiation treatment, and then turning around to discover his friends and family had gathered to surprise him and share the tender moment with him. Several of his friends were members of a men's Bible study that organized the "Billy Brigade" to drive Bill to his treatment.
I could go on with more examples, and I know there are many I don't even know about. Occasions of people taking Jesus' gospel to heart: connecting with kindness, building hope, nourishing wellness, giving generously, belting out inspiration. That's what a spiritual home is meant to be.
We've got each other and that's a lot. For love, we'll give it a shot.