Tomorrow during worship we will name the saints of our church who have died in the year gone by.
We will name them and see their faces and feel their continued presence in our midst and we will know for our own selves the reality of our own naming someday. We too (we pray) will be remembered by a community that acknowledges the witness we bore through the gift of our life.
I am mindful of the power of teachers. This morning I met a beloved teacher for coffee. We had not seen each other for nearly a decade. Life happened and while we stayed connected the chance to savor each other’s presence in the flesh has been long in coming.
Mary is a few years older than I. When I began college I auditioned for the choir there. I had always been a band geek but was encouraged to see myself as a singer. Wonder of wonders, I made the top choir and was terrified and amazed at the full-body miracle that is singing in the midst of talented and soulful singers. I remember yet the first rehearsal I went to. I was born again.
Mary was the queen of the sopranos; not in the Pit-Bull with jewelry on sort of way, but in such a way that the grace of her being sang through her body. Her voice was (and is) sublime. I wanted to be like her. I wanted to sing that freely and laugh that fully and practice grace that deftly so I apprenticed myself to learn this way of voicing soul.
She taught me well.
She still does. Encountering a kindred with whom beers and tears and so much life have been shared is like entering sanctuary.
Did she know she was my teacher? Probably not, and therein lies the power.
St Francis enjoined fellow disciples to “Preach the gospel always, and if necessary, use words”.
We are preachers, each one of us. My prayer is that our lives are witness to the power of the gospel. As we sing and scrap and love and bumble, may we preach grace.
Some day our name will be read and our spirit will echo with the sound of a bell rung to mark our passing.
May we also be a place in hearts we have touched and taught. For surely, as a gospel preaching people, we know the power of resurrection.