What A Savior

Dear Church,

Last week Thursday afternoon I picked up the phone and called my friend, Norma DeGraff.  Norma’s health isn’t the best.  She struggles both physically and mentally.  I asked her if it would be alright if I came over and brought the Sacrament of Communion.  She thought that would be a great idea.  I loaded up the travel communion kit and zipped over to her home where her garage door was open.  I knocked first and then let myself in.  Norma was sitting on the couch.  She didn’t get up to greet me; I’m not sure if she could have or not.  We spent some time chatting and reminiscing about some wonderful times we’ve shared together.  I’ve gone to watch her granddaughters compete in swimming and water polo.  I’ve played a wonderful round of golf with Norma at Coyote Run where Norma beat me by ten strokes.  I’ve officiated the wedding of one of her granddaughters on a Friday in June when the power went out in the sanctuary and it was hotter than Satan’s armpit and her granddaughter wanted me to wear a black robe!  And of course we talked about her famous sloppy joe recipe that she still won’t share.  I even showed her a video of my son, Willem, golfing. And while she had a hard time seeing him swing, she at least enjoyed the thought of it.

It was hard to see Norma like that.  She struggled to remember things about her husband, Muff.  As I poured the juice into the small glass thimble, she didn’t have the dexterity to lift the cup up to her lips and needed me to do it for her.  And she lamented how she doesn’t drive anymore and can’t get to church.  Norma was always so strong, independent and confident.  Seeing her so weak was difficult.  But as I was reading through the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving and the Words of Institution, she kept saying, “What a Savior,” “What a Savior,” “What a Savior.”  Her mind cloudy and body deteriorating, she kept reminding herself and me, “What a Savior."

I shouldn’t joke when I say, “I feel like I’m getting old.”  While my legs ache more now after a long run than they did ten years ago, I realize that at 34, I’m certainly not 84, or 94.  But as a pastor, I have the privilege of walking alongside wonderful folks who are 84 and 94 and who struggle physically and mentally.  I can only imagine how hard it is to not be able to do the things you once were so easily able to do.  I can only imagine how frustrating it is to know you can’t remember things you know you should know.  And I can only imagine how difficult it is to pass the day away sitting, staring, and waiting. 

Maybe that’s why Norma kept saying over and over again, “What a Savior.”  Maybe this simple refrain was a way to remind herself of her heavenly hope in Jesus.  Maybe this was a way to assure her spirit that while everything else seems to be failing, her Savior is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  And maybe repeating this decree was a demonstration of her faith, eagerly awaiting her salvation.             

This Sunday we will celebrate World Communion Sunday.  Christians from all over the world will gather under thatched roofs, vaulted ceilings, in auditoriums or living rooms and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, be tethered to the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.  When we do so, I invite you to borrow Norma’s refrain, “What a Savior.”  Be reminded of what a Savior we have in Jesus.  Be reminded of our Savior’s life and who He spent His time with and who He came for.  Be reminded of our Savior’s death and how His-once and-for-all sacrifice paid the debt of our sin and guilt and shame.  Be reminded of our Savior’s resurrection and victory over the powers of sin and the grave.  And be reminded of our Savior’s ascension into heaven and the sending of the comforting Holy Spirit to assure and guide us.  What a Savior we have.  Amen?

Grace & Peace,

Pastor Matt

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