Embraced
The Missional Community as a Means of Grace, Week 9
by Andrea Lingle


It was a late summer Sunday morning. All my kids had been delivered to their Sunday school classes at the Methodist church we attend.

My oldest was given his third grade Bible at the morning service. I showed him mine before we left for church. I took his picture. My second wore a dazzling, jeweled dress. Her golden blonde hair isn’t combed. Third-child-second-son has just moved out of the nursery area. He is both proud and nervous. I assure him that he will be fine. Baby wails as I close the door of the nursery.

That just leaves one.

On certain mornings, I go out to the memorial garden. Because there is one more. A silent baby. We planted a rosemary bush because it is for remembrance. I have learned to sit there. She will be three soon.

There is a deep-throated wind chime and a fountain. Her name and single date is affixed to the wall in bronze. It is a place I can be quiet with my grief, stilled for a moment from my life of feeding the hungry and clothing the naked.

I am still. I am rarely still. There is always something that needs to be done. There are bumped knees that need bandaging, vowels that need teaching, laundry that needs folding, and people who need noticing.

What’s the most important thing?

          Everyone feels included.

Right. Ok. Try harder. More systems, get up earlier, go to bed on time, eat better, and try and try and try. But I am still for this moment. This moment the sun feeds the narrow leaves that hold the memory of my daughter. This moment I lean into sorrow and joy. I am quiet with my unanswered, why. I think about the mystery of wind and soil. I think about the mystery of love and grief.

And I find peace.

The pebbled path crunches under my feet.

I walk through the iron gate, and they are standing together. Two of the collected broken ones that find a few hours of shelter within the walls and arms of our church. We have given them dignity by naming them as ours and us.

We have clothed them and fed them, and, in so doing, have done so to Christ. We have done this to the least of these. His eyes are weak-water blue. Mine are steel blue. All four look too old. He knows my sorrow and I see his.

As I greet him with a smile of inclusion, he greets me with an embrace of comfort. And I break.

All of the things I have done to love and include him break as he reaches out and offers me healing as only a man who has been broken can.

This is grace.

Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:

  • Living missionally is acknowledging that there is a reciprocal responsibility within every community to love and to heal.
  • How are you withholding protection to others? How are you rejecting healing from others?
  • How are you offering protection to others? How are you accepting healing from others?

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