“More and more, the desire grows in me simply to walk around, greet people, enter their homes, sit on their doorsteps, play ball, throw water, and be known as someone who wants to live with them. It is a privilege to have the time to practice this simple ministry of presence. Still, it is not as simple as it seems. My own desire to be useful, to do something significant, or to be part of some impressive project is so strong that soon my time is taken up by meetings, conferences, study groups, and workshops that prevent me from walking the streets. It is difficult not to have plans, not to organize people around an urgent cause, and not to feel that you are working directly for social progress. But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them.” ~ Henri Nouwen
I sat in a coffee shop catching up with my dear friend M. It had been several years since we broke bread together. After awhile, we moved from the inside to the outside. For an hour or more, the cool Houston air grazing against our skin. Yet we took in every ounce of that sun as we are true Midwest girls yearning for some sun in the midst of a long winter. Our conversation carried on as we caught up about on each other’s lives. A pure moment of eucharisto!
The first night, a sweet little baby who was prayed for and was born after her sister, was placed in my arms. As her sweet little fingers ran across my face, I couldn’t help but see the beauty of this answered prayer. Eucharisto in the flesh!
Another day, I sat with my friend BB as we chatted. I simply wanted to say thank you for the times he listened during my time of unexpected transition. Words carried as we listened and prayed for the gift this community is to so many. Another moment of eucharisto captured in time and space.
And yet another day, I sat around a table with some of my absolute favorite people remembering and reflecting on the ways God brought these individuals into my life. A smile couldn’t help but be spread across my face. A time of breaking bread and being reminded that I am incredibly loved; that all of us are incredibly loved!
Eucharisto is thanksgiving. It is thanksgiving for the time, people, and places that God puts in our lives. It is thanksgiving for those who hold you up when feel like you cannot hold yourself up. It is thanksgiving for the times we share together; times of sadness, times of joy and times of pure beauty. It is thanksgiving for a body of believers who show up time and time again for one another. In the words of Ann Voskamp, it is thanksgiving that proceeds the miracle.
For me, eucharisto is embodied in the words above from Henri Nouwen. Eucharisto is sitting at the feet of my dear friends and knowing that I am truly deeply loved. It is showing others that they too are truly deeply loved. Eucharisto is calling each of you by name and reminding you time and time again that what you do matters; that who you are matters, and that you are blessed beautiful beloved child of God.
Eucharisto is embodied every time the ELCA Youth Ministry Network Extravaganza happens each year. It is a place where over 1000 youth workers come together to learn, to grow, to reconnect and to be renewed. It is the place where I know that I am known by name–a place that continually reminds me that I am loved through the simple handshakes and hugs that tell me; that tell all of us that we are more than just liked, but rather we are loved–loved as beloved brothers and sisters in Christ.