Almighty and everlasting God, who governs all things in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Your people and grant us Your peace through all our days; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
“Where are we going?” she asked. It was sixth or seventh time my grandmother had asked this question since she had gotten into the car. We were taking her to my cousin’s wedding. My father had answered each time with the same response. We were going to this cousin’s wedding. A few moments later the question would come again. My grandmother had advanced dementia. This conversation was not unexpected or unusual at this stage of her decline.
Finally, with a bit of exasperation in his voice, my father responded with the name of the town. “We’re going to…” Immediately my grandmother sat bolt upright in the back seat and shot back, “But that’s a Catholic town!” It was true. My cousin was indeed marrying a Catholic girl and has been happily married to her for decades now. At this point in her life, my grandmother could not tell you what had happened in the last few minutes. She regularly confused my father for her brother. She remembered the names of none of her grandchildren, but she still knew the denominational geography of the community where she had lived for many years. This neighboring town was a Catholic town.
We all chuckled a little at this. Yet, there is something important going on. My grandmother’s late teens and married life encompassed the first world war, the great depression, and the second world war. She and her husband lost their farm in the great depression, and they had become migrants. Her husband died relatively young when she was in her early 50’s. She knew suffering, grief, poverty, and displacement. But there was one thing which did not change: the Lord Jesus whom she trusted.
We pray in this pray that God would give us His peace. Remember that we do not here pray for peace as the world knows it and as my grandmother seldom saw. We pray for another sort of peace entirely, a peace which passes understanding and which still was there for her in her dementia and decline, when she understood very little. Her faith and knowledge never were perfect or complete, but she knew Jesus and, more importantly, He knew her. We pray for and receive the peace of being in the hands of Christ. We may still walk the valley of the shadow of death, but Christ goes with us into those difficult days.