On Sunday mornings when I’m home in San Francisco, I go to a little Episcopal churches ten blocks from my house.
I go because I want to be part of a loving presence in our neighborhood that’s bigger than me. I want to have relationships with my brothers and sisters. I want be reminded of the ultimate Reality — that no matter how dark the world seems, Love is always here, and Love will always win. And I want to be inspired by saints who are following Jesus more closely than I am.
After we sang and listened and shared, we stood and danced to the communion table.
The priest put a morsel of bread in my cupped hands.
“The body of Christ,” he said.
A woman standing next to me handed me a chalice of wine.
“The blood of Christ,” she said.
After we’d all received communion, the priest invited us to give generously — placing our offering in a basket on the altar.
As we sang, people stepped forward to give.
The hymn was ending as an elderly man who’s living on the street shuffled to the altar, reached into his pocket, took all the change he had, and laid it in the basket. He bowed, and then shuffled back to his seat.
He gave everything, I thought as I witnessed his selflessness and surrender and faith.
He gave everything, I realized, as tears welled up in my eyes.
He gave everything. The words sunk into my soul, simultaneously refreshing and convicting me.
I thought about the widow that Jesus and the disciples watched at the temple — who gave her last two coins as an offering at the temple, whose sacrifice was commended because while the wealthy people were giving out of their wealth, this woman was giving out of her poverty.
The wealthy were giving something; the widow was giving everything.
He gave everything, I thought again, the words bringing me back into a sunlit rotunda where I stood in a circle around the altar, singing with my brothers and sisters as we gave our weekly offering.
In that moment, everything fell away as I saw with clarity what it means to follow Jesus.
In that moment, I experienced a deep gratitude for the example that ordinary saints set for the rest of us.
I suddenly saw that what it means to follow Jesus is to give everything. To surrender it all. To hold nothing back. To have no conditions, no prerequisites, no stipulations. To hold everything you are and dream and have — with open hands and an open heart.
What it means to follow Jesus is to leverage all of our assets, whether emotional or spiritual or financial or intellectual or physical, on behalf of invisible people who are suffering at the margins of society.
What it means to follow Jesus is to trust that Love has our best interest at heart.
What it means to follow Jesus is to use everything we are and have to keep the light of Love burning in a dark and desperate world.
The Sunday morning scene has stayed with me this week, and I suspect it will be with me for a long time.
I’ve spent the past few days wondering what it looks like for me — for you – for us — to wake up each morning determined to follow in the steps of Divine Love. To hold out our hands and our hearts in complete surrender. To give it all, knowing that what is given to God is never lost, is never in vain, is never for granted.
I think it leaves us with these critical questions:
What are we holding back?
What are we afraid of giving up?
What are we hesitant to surrender? (And why?)
How do we keep sight of the fact that what matters is not how much we give, but how little we hold back?
And what would happen in our world if each of us gave all we are and have to the Love who loves to love us?