There’s a question I ask the middle school youth with whom I get to spend many Sunday evenings: “Where did you see God this past week?” We’ve come to call these “God Sightings” and I cherish their trust in sharing their experiences with me. This beautiful, breezy, cool, autumn Monday, I’d like to share some of my “God sightings” over this past weekend
There were glimpses throughout the news coverage and personal videos of folks weathering the storm. There were glimpses on social media as folks were praying for others and helping neighbors and strangers alike. There were glimpses in the blue sky and autumn breezes along the Blue Ridge Parkway, but truly – the most impactful “God Sighting” I had this past weekend was sitting as a visitor, a few rows back from the front of St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
If you’ve ever been to Catholic Mass, you know the format: Readings from the Old & New Testament first, then a homily by the priest, usually tying the two together in relevance and grounding. If you haven’t ever attended a Catholic Mass, here’s your invitation. They happen every day. Anyway, after both readings on gratitude this weekend I was expecting a reminder to be grateful for the gifts received into my life. I got so much more.
Rather than remaining at the altar to speak, the priest came down to the first few rows of the congregation commenting on how the Holy Spirit sometimes moves on a different schedule than we humans can understand.
What happened next was a short few lines inviting us to look around at one another and to remember that WE represent Christ and the Church to everyone who encounters us. There is always something that draws folks into or pushes folks away from Church; and on that day, the goodness, welcoming nature, and love of the people in that community was being reminded of to be grateful for one another. Rather than leave the congregation, the priest introduced a young man, had him stand up, and confirmed him there in a beautiful ceremony with a full congregation in attendance.
Normally this process of adults being received into the Catholic Church is reserved for a ceremony during Easter. But this young man asked for Confirmation early, and was granted it, because as a U.S. Marine he may not be here with his family or congregation next Easter. At the end of the service, the priest reminded everyone once again of OUR role in keeping one another uplifted, not only in times of trials and storms, but in the ordinary times as well. And really, if we think about it and look for those moments of Grace, I think even the ordinary time qualifies as a beautiful gift.
Where did you see God this past week?