The Mass three weekend’s ago was perfect. Of course, every Mass is technically perfect, but this one felt like the beginning when the liturgy was new to us and we were breathlessly aware of being part of the worship of the millenia with the cloud of witnesses both on earth and on the other side. Beautiful music not too high to sing, beloved Bible passages from Psalm 145 and Luke 19, and an expressive homily by a visiting Irish priest with a lovely accent. I’m sure it helped that my children were a little tired and droopy in the pews, without their usual boisterous participation. Even the seven year old shook hands sedately and murmured “Peace be with you” for the sign of peace instead of his usual hand-pumping “Howdy.” No one asked to leave to use the restroom, no one got tripped moving about and around for Holy Communion, and no one hung on my back while I was kneeling for prayer. It was a short mountaintop experience for this tired mother that rivaled any retreat from my younger days. Thank you, Lord, for such an oasis!
Sometimes it all comes together: the facts, the faith, and the feelings. Do you know this maxim? “Fact, faith, and feeling went walking on a wall. Feeling took a tumble and faith began to fall. Fact pulled them up again ’til all were walking tall.” It’s good to have the feelings perfectly in place with the facts and faith. But feelings make fickle masters because they are affected by everything. Or nothing. Much of the Christian life involves decisions based on the facts. Our “credo” – Latin for “I believe” – is a solid foundation upon which our faith rests. “Let us proclaim the mystery of faith,” calls the priest and the congregation sings, “When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death O Lord, until you come again.”
Now that we know who our president and congressmen will be, I’m praying that my faith in the facts of salvation centered on Christ will keep a tight hold on my tenuous feelings.
The Mass three weeks ago opened with, “Before the Lord, the whole universe is as a grain from a balance or a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth. But you spare all things because they are yours, O Lord and lover of souls (Wisdom 11:22,26).” And we sang from Psalm 145, “I will extol you, my God and king; I will bless your name forever. The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love. All your works give you thanks, O Lord, and your faithful bless you. You are near to those who call upon you, to all who call upon you in truth.” These inerrant words help me to breathe easier. Our time here is short. There is much we can do as civilized Americans and as Christians to be the hands of Jesus to ease pain and make our world a better place no matter who sits in our state capitols or Washington, D.C.
Our Gospel reading that weekend was the story of Zaccheus. While the deacon was reading, I was mentally singing “Zaccheus was a wee little man; a wee little man was he…” from my Sunday school days! Whatever is happening; whatever good or bad place I may find myself; whether it’s my fault or not; Jesus notices me. He notices everyone. When Zaccheus answered Jesus and let the Lord come in, he vowed to return what he’d taken and give away half of what he had. He was changed for the better and his sphere was changed for the better. It happens all the time when people listen to Jesus. Good things come from messes when Our Lord is involved, whether or not our chosen political candidates win.
The song that moved me to tears that weekend and that I’ve been humming ever since is called Our God is Here and it sounds like the song of the angels John saw in his revelation visions. “Here in this time, here in this place, our God is here. Here for the broken, here for the strong, here in this temple we belong. We are his body living as one, our God is here. And we cry holy, holy, holy are you. We cry holy, holy, holy and true. Amen we do believe our God is here.”
That’s my song. Whatever direction my beloved country may take, I will cry with the angels, Holy are you, holy and true; my God is here.