When you go to a big church, it is inevitable that there will be shared joys. Baptisms, births, weddings, recoveries are all part of living in community together.
There are losses, too.
Today, at bible study, I found out that a fellow parishioner at Grace, Roger Ferland, died yesterday. It was a sudden, unexpected loss. He was in his fifties... an OB/Gyn here in Providence.
I met Roger when he and his wife, Kim, first started coming to Grace. We made a meal together for the soup kitchen one Saturday. Then, last month, he preached a sermon in honor of St. Luke. It struck a particular chord for me because the work I have been doing lately is of a kind that I have to rely, every day, on the Grace of God. That was what Roger preached on... God's grace in seemingly hopeless situations. After the service I approached him and thanked him for speaking. I told him about my work at the crisis pregnancy center and asked about his practice. We both allowed as to how the process of birth is especially ripe for God's grace.
I have been struck, lately, by what a blessing it is to be in community with other people. Joy, sorrow, grace and despair are different when they are experienced together with other people of faith. There is such sorrow in loss... but such grace in being able to experience that sorrow with other members of the body of Christ. I cried my way through the bible study this morning, comforted by the presence of God and my friends. Afterward, I sat in the darkened church for awhile, praying.
This weekend I'll go to the funeral at Grace Church. There will be doctors and patients, friends and relatives. And there will be some of us who knelt at the communion rail with Roger and broke bread and were connected to each other through the flesh and blood of him who brings grace to us all.
Rest in peace, Roger.