Sacred Memory Series: Remembering in Community
Val Walker of Portland, OR, USA
Open your hearts and feel the yearnings of your brothers and sisters who are lonely, despised, fearful, neglected, unloved. Reach out in understanding, clasp their hands, and invite all to share in the blessings of community created in the name of the One who suffered on behalf of all. -Doctrine and Covenants 161:3a
I recently received a phone call from a hospital chaplain saying that an elderly church member would like a visit at her adult foster care facility. When I visited her, she told me she had not been to church in many years. During our visit, she shared stories of her family and also related some health issues. I offered the sacrament of laying on of hands for the sick and she accepted. I also offered to return the following week and share Communion with her since she could not recall the last time she had shared in the sacrament.
On my return visit, it was obvious that she was in further decline with dementia. Yet she did recall my promise to bring the Lord’s Supper to her. As I read the prayers, she said how beautiful they were. But as I served her the bread, she asked, “Now what do I do with this?” I said, “Take a piece, and eat.” Then I wondered if I was doing the right thing-if she doesn’t know what she is doing, is it really a sacrament? Is the fact that she “doesn’t remember” a theological problem? I felt compelled to serve her, and remember Christ with and for her, in community.
Later I was drawn to a memory. Before I was a baptized and confirmed a member of Community of Christ, before we practiced open communion, I was in a retreat setting and really wanted to reach out and take the bread. I desperately wanted to be a part of the community. I felt hands resting on my shoulders, preventing me from reaching out. Yet when I looked behind me when the bread passed by, there was no one there. I was rather puzzled, but peace overcame my frustration.
Because of this first experience, I have always taken the Communion very intentionally and strive in my ministry to help others experience it as refreshing and renewing. The simple act of sharing one-on-one, as someone who needed to help her remember, reminded me once again of Christ’s peace in community.
“Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you…” (Deuteronomy 8:2).
Spend time journaling or reflecting on significant memories that have shaped your life. Allow the following questions to guide you: What memories from your life shape how you encounter and respond to the world around you today? When has sacred memory in you become a path into the future?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
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