Yesterday I held the hand of a dying man. I spoke words of peace and offered him his last communion. He had faith enough for the both of us.
This once gregarious soul could barely communicate, but as I placed the bread on his tongue and poured some little bit of juice past his lips. I was reminded of a story he told me. He grew up in a Jewish family in New York City almost a century ago. As a teenager he fell in love with a girl and found faith in Jesus, both of which were instrumental in his conversion to Christianity. Eventually, he felt called into ordained ministry and he served for decades as a pastor in the Nazarene tradition.
Once, early in his ministry, he was at home and heard a knocking at his apartment door. It was a Catholic neighbor who was frantic for some reason to receive communion. The person begged for the sacrament and when he looked around his apartment he found bread, but no juice of any kind. Instead of turning back to the woman with excuses about how he wasn’t a priest or how he didn’t have what he needed, in an inspired moment he took some packets of grape jelly and put them in a cup with water, stirred them around until they were juice-like, and without flinching, administered the sacrament.
Ed lived generously, courageously and creatively. Regardless of faith or creed, I think we can all agree we could use more people like that.
So, here’s the word for today. You can make excuses or you can make the world a better place. Sometimes you have to work with what you’ve got and, without flinching, make something more out of it.