Out of nowhere in particular, today was a sad day at church. Sad, but at the same time better because of that. Two of our congregation died this past year, and now whenever there’s a sermon or epistle reading that mentions death I think of them. And the people they left behind. And the people who keep finding out they have cancer, like a woman I’ve known since I was a baby, whose kids I’ve grown up with.

We’ve had several variations on the same theme in sermons over the past year or so – that we pray for the sick and the dying, hoping for physical healing but knowing that their souls are what we really pray for. That sickness can bring a person closer to God, in a way that they might not have been had they lived to eighty and died in their sleep. I started thinking today, while half-listening to a sermon on the paralytic being forgiven his sins before being told to get up off his bed and walk, about how the rest of us can take something from this. That by being here with them while they are sick, some of that grace can rub off on us. Or rather, I guess, that we can be more receptive to the grace that’s coming at us from every direction.

We have a corner where people light candles and pray for the dead, and there are framed pictures that people have left. Today, the four-year-old daughter of the man who died in February took his picture and was showing it to everyone around her. “This is my daddy,” she said to me, “on his wedding day. That’s why he has a flower, see?” And I tell her that, yes, I know, I was there. I was a few years older than her, and I was there. “Were you two?” she asks. Um, no. “Four?” No. “Maybe eight and a half?” That’s more like it.

And now, on a lighter note – what I remember from their wedding. It was the first wedding where I really noticed what was happening. When I saw them kiss, my only thought was “eww!! In front of all these people? No way. I’m never doing that.”

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