Ted Copland, the Rector of my parish (St. Boniface Church on Siesta Key here in Florida) was away today. He is at a well deserved retreat.
The Assistant Rector, Andrea Taylor was up-front for the 8:00 and 10:00 Eucharists. I offered my services to lead the 9:00 a.m. Bible Study - so that Andrea (Andie) would not be over-burdened. Ted and Andie gladly accepted that offer.
It made good sense to me to attend the earlier (8:00 a.m.) service before facilitating the 9:00 a.m. Bible Study.
At the early service “T.M”, a “forty-something” lawyer, spoke at the “Minute for Ministry” spot which is a regular feature of life at the services at St. B’s.
It’s a time at which a lay-leader gives a pep-talk about some up-coming parish activity.
“T.M” related that he had initially been dragged into Church by his wife. He went on to speak about his involvement in a parish sponsored event at which some 20 or so Boniface Teens helped to fix up homes in a Rochester N.Y. ghetto.
That was all “fine and dandy”, but “T.M.” was not through. He went on to speak of an Easter Day service some years ago at St. B’s. He told us that the risen Lord Jesus Christ had “zapped him” on that day (all unexpectedly!), and that he, “T.M”, had that day been converted to Jesus. As he put it, he had “found Christ” at an Easter Day Eucharist!
As if that were not enough, “G.P” had something to say at the Bible Study. (She had not been at the early service).
I had been saying at Bible Study that Jesus often “comes again” to us during times of crisis.
“G.P.” asked if she might add a comment. She went on to relate that some years ago her first husband had unexpectedly died of a heart attack when he, she, and their two teenaged sons were on vacation. It was a dreadful time.
She told us that a rather “scruffy” Roman Catholic Priest had been summoned and that he had asked if he might offer “last rites”.
“G.P.” was a wee bit reluctant to agree to these “last rite” prayers because one of the two sons was a professed atheist. Nonetheless she consented.
As the Priest prayed she felt a “jolt”. It was a feeling which told her that all would be well despite this terrible loss.
That was all well and good, but there was more to come. After the prayers her atheist son asked “Mom, did you feel that jolt?”
“G.P.” felt sure that she and her sons had encountered the Risen Lord Jesus Christ in that time of awful crisis as the Priest had offered prayer.
St. Boniface is not a particularly evangelical parish. Nor is it a haunt for “Jesus freaks”.
Yet today, within the space of one hour, I was privileged to hear two parishioners speak of their encounters with the Lord Jesus.
I’ll leave you to form your own conclusions.