Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bearing the Pain: Alone or Together?

My friend Mary, in South Dakota, sends me weekly essays from Kathy Timpany, a UCC pastor in Sioux Falls.

Tonight, doing a little housekeeping on my gmail inbox, I happened to read Pastor Timpany's meditation for Palm/Passion Sunday. It blew right by me at the time, as our family girded our loins for my wife Diane to be involved in no fewer than 14 worship services in the course of Holy Week at our suburban megachurch.

When I got to it tonight, however, this quotation from Timpany's essay blew me away: "Palm Sunday reveals the passion, the sorrow and the love intermingled at the heart of all our lives. It forces to choose how we will arrive at the Cross: bearing that pain together, or using it to seperate ourselves from others."

There are so many forces pulling us apart, in this fragmented, bowling-alone American life. Yet we are called into community.

As I reflected on this, I was reminded of St. Paul's account in 1 Corinthians 11 of the institution of the eucharist. "This is my body that is for you," he quotes Jesus as saying in verse 24. In the original Greek, the word "you" is plural. Communion is personal, but it is not private; it extends the means of grace to all who share a common life.

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