A beautiful reflection by Terry Beamer, who attends worship at Haywood regularly…thanks for sharing, Terry!
A MOMENT OF GRACE
She ambled up and down the aisle in her solo parade where Brian, the minister, stood interacting with the congregation. She wore several layers of oversized men’s clothing, her eyes were glazed and her cheeks flushed. Seeing an adult cling to a small brown stuffed animal was unusual of course, but there she was. She appeared to be lost in her own reality. It was impossible to ignore her, impossible to take your eyes from her.
As Brian spoke, Ruth (not her real name) continued to walk, occasionally stopping beside him. Each time at her approach, Brian reached for her, wrapping his arm around her and patting her on the back as a father would a child. On a previous Wednesday, Ruth stood next to Brian as he spoke, laying her head on his shoulder. He held her until she was ready to move again.
At this particular Wednesday service, he continued engaging the congregation as he comforted her. This scene played out several times as Ruth left and returned to Brian’s side.
At every Wednesday church service, Brian and Shannon, ministers at The Haywood Street Congregation, exude a feeling of welcome, peacefulness and acceptance. The people that others might ignore or cast aside, Shannon and Brian physically, emotionally, and spiritually touch with tenderness and great love. Surely they are allowing the love of Christ that dwells within them to freely flow to others. Such love is quite beautiful and very contagious!
On this day in June, Ruth finally stopped walking and sat restlessly on the front row of the church. As Ruth sat, Shannon stood. The time for Communion had arrived. Shannon broke the Bread of Life, filled the Cup of Salvation and said a prayer of thanksgiving. She asked four people from the congregation to come forward to serve The Lord’s Supper. The fourth name that she called was Ruth. Apparently a bit confused about what she was being asked to do, Ruth hesitated. Shannon went to her and gently explained what was required. She handed the Cup of Salvation to Ruth and showed her where to stand. Shannon then turned toward the congregation and invited all to come to the Lord’s Table.
As people came forward, Ruth stood quietly in her confusion, in her brokenness, in her need, offering to others what had been given to her, the Cup of Grace. Having responded to God’s call to come, she gave all she had to give. In that moment she stood in the presence of God and gave herself.
Perhaps Ruth was unaware of the significance of her silent testimony, but others were deeply moved by it. The visual impact of her holding the small stuffed animal in one hand and the Blood of Christ in the other was a startlingly simple, yet bold statement of salvation through God’s Grace. Without a spoken word, the message was clear: God loves us! Just as we are.
And so WE come to the Table of Grace, empty and broken in places.
We come confused, longing for a touch, not completely understanding what that means.
We come, just as we are.
We find peace, acceptance and love.
We find God’s gift of Grace.
We find that WE are Ruth.