Words like life preservers
In these anxious days when virtually every sense of normalcy in life has been shattered, we suffer no lack of words. Words online, words in print, words exchanged from a distance, words texted, Tweeted, and Twittered, words from medical experts, words from governmental officials, words from grandchildren too young to understand what’s going on. But which words will we trust? Whose words do we heed?
I am, to a large extent, in the business of words. Words offered on Sunday mornings, words spoken when children are baptized and when loved ones die, words uttered by hospital beds and in living rooms, and always words informed by faith, shaped by grace and infused with hope. These words were not my idea. The prod came from a church member who hears my words with great regularity and apparently finds them encouraging.
When the request came, I remembered the comment of a church member in Kane where I served before coming to Warren. When asked about his favorite part of the worship service, he replied, “The end.” Instantly realizing how the comment could be misconstrued (“Whew! It’s finally over!”), he added quickly, “The part when you remind us that we are never alone.”
They are words I have said for many, many years and in many, many places and to many, many people. I recall a Sunday when I locked eyes with a man I knew was dying of cancer; I felt him take the words to heart along with the love with which I offered them. The words are at the end of the worship service and are part of what’s called the Benediction. That word means “good word.” Partnered with words from Scripture, I believe the words I offer are some of the best words we can trust.
“Remember: you are never, ever alone,” I begin, and because I am a follower of Jesus and peculiarly Presbyterian I continue: “You are always held in the love of God and kept in the grace of Jesus the Christ and accompanied by the Holy Spirit…”
In these anxious days, we are isolated, separated, distanced, and deeply grieved by it all because we are created to be social, in relationship, connected to one another. In the midst of our sadness, our struggles as we are so far removed from normalcy, even if you are not a follower of anyone or anything other than the media, trust these words because you are a human being and they are true for you: you are never, ever alone…
Rev. Rebecca Taylor is pastor at First Presbyterian Church. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org