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For God So Loved

March 14, 2021

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” John 3:16

It was one year ago tomorrow that we worshipped via livestream for the first time. It was a time of confusion, fear, and anxiety. It has been a long year, and I miss so many things. I miss singing with all of you. I miss being with all of you. I miss the holy commotion of a Sunday morning at Grace. Today I received a gift that reminded me of something else I’ve been missing.

After our in-person Holy Communion service, I walked over to visit with a five-year-old boy and his family. The child had just received Holy Communion for the first time. I asked him what he thought of the experience. “It was good!” Then he said, “Pastor Lyle, I have something for you.” With a look of concentration, he unbuttoned his shirt pocket and took out a carefully rolled sheet of paper. He unrolled it, revealing a coloring sheet related to this morning’s gospel reading. “It’s the cross that Jesus died on for us.” I asked, “That’s for me?” He nodded a vigorous yes in reply. I might have cried just a little bit as I walked back to my office, gift in hand.

With all of the other losses this year, I’d forgotten that this is not an uncommon occurrence. Pastors are often handed drawings on the way out of church, but with limited worship and the need to socially distance, it had been a while. It’s amazing to see how even the youngest among us respond to God’s Word with a creative, sensory response. These gifts are treasures, and I was profoundly moved this morning. This child of God received the priceless gift of Christ, given in bread and wine, for the first time today; then he turned around and gave me a gift. Blessed by God, we turn around and bless others. This is the life of discipleship.

Many thanks to my young friend for reminding me that the gift of Christ is for me; may he (and you), through the sacrament, spend a lifetime knowing that the gift is for him (and you), too.

Be well, friends. You are loved.

God of grace, your good gifts always catch us by surprise, even when we have learned in faith to expect such goodness from you. Bless us, Lord, as we continue in these pandemic days. Thank you for your Son, lifted up on the cross for our sake and salvation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Image: The drawing, now on my refrigerator.

Pastor’s note: At Grace, there is no set age at which children receive Holy Communion for the first time. In fourth grade, we hold a retreat at which the pastors teach the kids about the sacrament. Many children wait to receive Communion until experiencing this retreat. Many other kids start communing at a younger age; what I ask as a pastor is the chance to have an age-appropriate conversation about Holy Communion with the child and at least one parent or guardian, so that they have a sense of the gift they will receive. Kids who start receiving Communion at a younger age still attend the retreat in fourth grade, as this is an important building block in our catechetical approach to teaching the faith.

From → COVID-19

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