at St. Philip’s, Easthampton, Massachusetts,
on 3 February 2019 [Epiphany 4]:
Jeremiah 1:4-10; 1 Corinthians 13:1-13; Luke 4:21-30The Peace that Passes Understanding
John was a parishioner. He and his wife Jane were my parents’ age; and as members of that World War II generation, they shared many of the same experiences and expectations. For instance, like my mom, Jane had been a stay-at-home mother. Like my dad, John worked all his life as a mid-level manager for one of America’s major corporations. Having retired some years earlier, John and Jane had moved to town to be closer to their grown children; and their regular presence at church made them beloved figures in our parish’s life. But now, John was now dying.
John’s bed had been moved downstairs to the living room of their airy condominium. He lay there in great weakness but still expressed the gentle, almost innocent kindness that had been his personal hallmark. I visited fairly regularly, keeping tabs on both John and Jane. Most often, I brought Communion to them.
It was after receiving the sacrament on one occasion and before I offered the blessing, that John, in his raspy whisper, motioned me over to his bedside. In a barely audible murmur, he asked me a question. He couldn’t remember the words of the blessing. Would I tell him those words?