Last month, my family and I went through one of life’s major changes — the loss of my father. I know we all go through it eventually and none of us are really prepared for it. But it seems that it’s times like these when we become more aware of the hand of God at work.
Yes, we see (and feel) His touch daily. But when our personal worlds shift and shake — in both major and minor ways — I believe His presence becomes more evident.
If my father had passed three years ago, before I began my Moravian faith journey, I’m not sure if I would have been able to recognize the Spirit’s presence. In working with the church, writing about its faith traditions and happenings, coming into contact with so many gifted people of God and returning to weekly worship, it has become easier to see God’s spirit in the everyday.
When I arrived at my parents’ house after hearing the news, amidst all the sadness and activity, I felt two spirits among us — my Dad’s and that of the Holy Spirit. It was in the calm of the breeze, the stars above and the comforting words of family.
That sense of spiritual closeness helped guide my fingers as I wrote my father’s obituary. It’s one of those times when I’m thankful for the gift of stringing words together. The words just flowed. The same thing happened when I went to write his eulogy.
The outpouring of condolences and support from my friends both within and outside the Moravian community gave my family the feeling that God was with us. Cards, messages and words of support came from all corners. In fact, the first condolences came from my pastor and his family, followed almost immediately by co-workers and friends from the Church Center.
When we met with my father’s priest, Father Iain, I again sensed the Spirit at work. His way of comforting the family, helping us through the time of mourning and working with us to plan my father’s service was invaluable. This is a man whose spirituality and love of God is evident in his work. His ability to bring comfort and hope made what was to come a little easier to handle. And since that time, my conversations with a number of Moravian pastors demonstrated the love and compassion of men and women of God.
But I think the most telling sign of God’s presence came when I entered the church of my youth for the funeral service. Fond memories of attending mass with my parents came flooding back. To my surprise the soloist for the service was an old high school friend known for his beautiful voice (he’d played Jesus in our high school production of Jesus Christ Superstar). My next-door neighbor growing up, now in his 80s, was also there — he serves as the church’s janitor now.
And then as I looked toward the altar, there, hanging behind the baptismal font, was a sign that brought it all home for me: a banner with our conquering lamb, holding the staff and cross banner. That image gave me strength and filled me with that spirit of “yes, everything is going to be okay…”
I’m writing this from the front porch of my parent’s home in Connecticut. This isn’t the first Ponderings I’ve written from here…it’s a special, spiritual place for me. It’s quiet — the only sounds are the wind through the trees, the rain on the roof and the soft tinkle of the windchimes. And as I write, I can feel a sense of calm and purpose — the joint work of my father and the Holy Spirit.
I want to thank everyone who supported my family and me during this tough time. Again, this experience strengthened my beliefs and my surety that I am in the right place.
On a different note:
For this issue of the Moravian, the Board of World Mission and the Interprovincial Board of Communication got together to try out an old idea in a new way — combining an issue of the magazine with the Board of World Mission’s Annual Report.
A little history: long before my time with the IBOC, a spring issue of the Moravian Magazine was dedicated to the BWM annual report. In the mid-2000s, the BWM began publishing a standalone annual report. Then, in 2011 and 2012, the IBOC designed and oversaw production of that report.
This year, we decided to put the June/July issue of the magazine and the annual report in the same publication. Since we both use the same address list, and mission stories are a common feature in the magazine, it made sense to both of us to share the costs and the content for this issue.
We hope you enjoy this month’s Moravian articles and learn about the great work of the Board of World Mission. As always, we look forward to your thoughts and comments.
From the June/July 2013 Moravian Magazine