Daily Reflection
October 12th, 1999
Joan Howard
University College
Romans 1:16-25
Luke 11:37-41

There are two sentences within these readings which captured my imagination.  The first in Romans:  "I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith..."  The second is found in Luke:  "So give for alms those things that are within; and see, everything will be clean for you."

Why would St. Paul say he was not "ashamed" of the gospel?  My initial reaction was to relate to the "shame" associated with not living out the gospel message.  However, several things happened recently which led me to focus on the glory and life in the gospel message lived within our faith community.

I was invited to join a community of religious sisters in their celebration of Sunday Eucharist.  There were approximately fifty white haired women in the community.  Some were erect and seemingly physically fit.  Others were bent over, crippled or arthritic.  As I was seated behind them I caught only glimpses of their faces.  I imagined each one carried her own personal history of joy and pain.  Personal, but not private in that these women live a communal life.  In their midst I experienced a sense of peace and well being.  Their lives' ministries have been a source of blessing for the entire faith community - reaching far beyond the convent property.

An 83 year old Episcopalian woman of sound mind and body, continues her ministry, although she would not use that word.  She devotes time each week sewing for the "retired, older ladies" (most of whom are younger than she!) who live in a Lutheran Home for Women.  She adjusts hems, sews on missing buttons, lets seams in and out, all over a cup of tea and pleasant conversation.  Her everyday sort of ministry reflects the glory of the living God.  As a member of the community of faithful, of all faith, we share in the blessings of each other.

A college student related her initial visit to a middle aged black women in jail.  In order to be admitted to the jail the student had to pass through a series of metal detectors, walk down long corridors, through locked doors and finally wait in an unfriendly waiting room.  When she finally encountered the woman, it was through a glass window.  They spoke to each other over a telephone.  "It was really weird and I was really nervous," said the student.  "Then the lady looked at me and said, "Child what are YOU doing HERE ?"  "I laughed nervously and said, I'm wondering the same thing!  And we both laughed!"  The student went on to tell me what a "great" visit they had discussing their families, books, and "things."  "She was someone's mom.  But what was really weird was that because of the sun light reflecting on the glass partition, sometimes when I looked at the woman I would see my features reflected on her black face.  It was such a neat experience."  This student was seeing herself in the other while experiencing the goodness of the other.  Once again all of us are blessed through the ministry of one of us.

For me these unrelated incidents were reminders of how rich we are as a community when we allow the Spirit of God to act through us.  

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