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No matter how great your sadness or how deep your sorrow, there’s one person to whom you can always turn: Mary. Oh, I know. I can hear you: “You Catholics and your Mary…it’s Mary this and Mary that! Why, it’s practically heretical.” Marian devotion may be peculiarly Catholic, but there’s nothing peculiar in recognizing Mary as a particularly appealing and deeply understanding role model.

First of all, she knows heartbreak better than a country music ballad. The terror of losing a child in a big city? Been there. The profound grief of watching your own flesh and blood, your beloved son, be tortured and murdered? Done that. I don’t mean to sound blasé. Mary knows the darkest and most painful parts of motherhood like no one else. I can’t think of a better resource for parents or those who mourn. However heavy your heart, her heart knows your sorrow. No one who ever lived has experienced more vividly than Mary the destruction of innocent life.

But Mary is more than just a grief counselor. She is a model of acceptance. Some find Mary’s humility and serenity mildly annoying or even mealy-mouthed. (I know; I’ve been guilty of it myself.) “Thy will be done.” Honestly, you have no more passion than that for captaining the ship of your life? But Mary’s “yes” turns out to be stronger than any “no” could ever be. She doesn’t just accept. She puts herself into God’s hands totally. That takes guts. Anyone who’s ever tripped over the words “thy will be done” in The Lord’s Prayer knows what I mean.

What’s more, acceptance can be a powerful thing. Like poor old Hamlet, we can try to bend the world to our own ends, only to find that “the rest is silence.” Only in acceptance can we find peace. Only in acceptance can we find the ability to go on after life’s greatest trials.

Though Mary’s role in the New Testament is underwritten at best, the fact is that she was present. Present for Jesus’ life and ministry, present for his death, present for the Pentecost and subsequent spread of Christianity. She might not have said much (that we know of), but she was there as witness and active participant. She went where the work took her — the work of God, that is — whether that was far from home (Egypt) or in her own neighborhood. We would do well to do as Mary did.

So think of Mary as a resource, in pain as well as in joy. (No one has ever described the keeping of happy memories better than in that little sentence: “She kept all of these things in her heart.”) Whatever you’re going through, Mary understands. Let her stand with you.

Human diversity makes tolerance more than a virtue; it makes it a requirement for survival.Gift from God 2
— Rene Dubois

When I saw this quote, I smiled because it reminded me of the sacrament of Holy Communion.  If it sounds like a logical jump, that’s because you haven’t heard our communion liturgy.

As long as I can remember, my church has celebrated open communion.  This means that you don’t have to be a member of Florissant Presbyterian Church, our Presbytery, or the Presbyterian Church USA to partake.  You only have to be a Christian to approach the Communion Table.

Many other Christian denominations put limits on who can take Communion.  You have to be from their denomination, their synod or perhaps even their congregation. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s always some church leader putting another limiter on who can celebrate.  Support gay marriage?  Do you use birth control?  How do you feel about genetic engineering?  Give the wrong answer and there’s no communion for you.

At our church, we only ask one thing — that you be Christian.  It’s been that way for years.

Recently, our communion liturgy has changed and it now includes something that I love.  Seriously.  Love it.

As she welcomes everyone to the Communion Table, Pastor Carol reminds us that this is not Florissant Presbyterian Church’s Communion Table.  It is not a Presbyterian Communion Table.  It is Christ’s Table.

Wow.  Think about how powerful that is?  It isn’t up to our Pastor, our Session or even the General Assembly to say if you as an individual are welcome.

Christ is the one that calls you. It is up to God and only God.

Do you belong to Him?

Then come forward.  You will find acceptance in Him.

–SueBE

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