This coming Sunday is Pentecost. I decided to not serve communion, but rather to give each person a blessing in celebration of the Spirit that calls us together. The residents of this home are very frail, and many cannot take communion, but it is the rare person who is not moved by the offering of a blessing.
Arnold surprised me by thanking me as I blessed him. His is a voice that is seldom lifted, and I was glad to hear him. After the service, I went back around to thank each person for joining us. As I did so, the pianist then began to play, "Jesus Loves Me," and, out of habit, I began singing. I paused by Arnold, and kept singing, not so much at him, but rather "with" him, as he really appeared to be engaged with the music. Afterwards, he amazed me even more by lifting his fist, not in a combative way, but rather in victory, and quietly exclaiming with tears in his eyes, "Jesus loves me."
As I have been thinking about that moment, the hymn "Victory in Jesus" keeps coming to mind. It is a hymn not sung in the UCC churches that I know, probably because it sings of the blood. Yet, I do serve people whose lives have been so difficult that they truly yearn to hear of the redeeming power of the blood. I am reminded that Jesus did not just vaporize on the cross, he did indeed bleed. We all do. Let us remember that on Monday. Maybe Memorial Day is not the best day to go shopping.
Nonetheless, I will probably always find the redemptive power in the love rather than the blood, so I leave you with the beautiful second verse of this lively hymn. My prayer for you is that you, too, know that you are loved with a Love that is beyond comprehension, a Love that is cheering you on because it has already won. May everyone claim their victory in love today. Maybe then our wars can end, and all can find their way home.
I heard about his healing,
of his cleansing power revealing,
how he made the lame to walk again
and caused the blind to see;
and then I cried,
come and heal my broken spirit,"
and somehow Jesus came
and brought to me the victory.
- Eugene M. Bartlett, 1939