O God, through the humiliation of Your Son You raised up the fallen world. Grant to Your faithful people, rescued from the peril of everlasting death, perpetual gladness, and eternal joys; through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
She was one of those worker bees which every congregation has. You probably know the sort of people I am talking about. They are the ones who are setting up the coffee hour, cleaning up after the fellowship dinner, folding the bulletins, or something like that. But what was best about her was that she always had a smile. She seemed genuinely to enjoy being there, chatting with friends, busy with her hands, making life a little better or sweeter for another person.
This might surprise you about her. She had lost a child many years ago. It had been a bitter blow, a faith challenging moment in her life. She had thought she was at the end of her rope and without hope. But Jesus found her down in her despair. He was not ashamed to sit with her for a while down there in that dark place. Finally, the two of them had gotten up off the floor and found a new way to live after her child’s death. Jesus is why her cheerful smile never left her face, even when the arthritic hip started to hurt a little, and then it hurt a lot. He is why the joy in service endured. Jesus had found her there, in the gloom of everlasting death, bereft and unable to see out of the darkness. Now my friend sings in heaven beside that child whom she lost. Her joy is eternal and her gladness perpetual. It started, however, on a day when Jesus, through the people of her congregation, were willing to sit down with her and simply be in that dark place of her grief and gloom. They did not leave her, even though she was difficult to be around. Through them, through her friends, through the women and men of that parish, Jesus was there for her.