Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Proper Hunger

      For just a moment last Sunday, I glimpsed grace which floated into the small wooden sanctuary of my church and settled on the windowsills with a sigh and glimmer like dust motes in the morning sun. It lasted less than a minute, but its impact still resonates. Holy moments, when they occur, are worth thinking on. There was nothing special about the service other than it was the fifth Sunday of the month, so my friends from all the churches in the area were gathered in the same sanctuary. It’s a tradition I cherish. I had just finished leading worship and a visitor was explaining plans that are percolating for a youth center in town. As I listened to her, that’s when I felt it. Grace. I’m not sure if anyone else was aware of the sudden clarity that made the air in the sanctuary feel like a baptism in a clear mountain stream, but I was and it stayed with me the rest of the day.
     My heart may have been ready to feel that grace because I had spent the day before with a dear friend on a road trip to Bristol. Mary Lou and I went there to see the play “Bridge to Terabithia” and hear its author, Katherine Patterson talk. Mrs. Patterson said that we’ve “lost what is beautiful and joyful, and the best books for children help them look at the world with a sense of wonder that puts them in awe of ordinary things.” She said “a taste of wonder may well give the soul a proper hunger for the Bread of Life.”
     I taste wonder every day when I look out my windows at blue mountains against bluer sky, or drive to work down a valley road lined with white barns that glow pink in the early morning light, or lift my eyes from my desk to see a dogwood tree full of black birds and red berries. But, I taste it best when I am with friends and family who love God. I also glimpse God’s grace best in their company. On Sunday morning my plain clapboard church was full of plain folk worshipping, and worship is the language of wonder and grace.
     I looked up the word "worship" in my thesaurus and it gave me adoration, love, reverence, respect, devotion and prayer. On Sunday all of those things danced together so beautifully that the sanctuary glowed with it. My friends smiled and lifted their faces in joy and I knew. Light has come into the world and the darkness cannot overcome it.

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