Wednesday, October 14, 2015
"Chasing Francis" by Ian Morgan Cron is more than just a good piece of fiction. It describes one man's journey of faith in such a way that it begins to feel like our own journey. Or, at least such was my reaction to this story of lost and found faith. While there were many pages which caused me to lay the book aside for a moment of quiet personal reflection, none so affected me as those pages which spoke of powerful Table encounters. One image was of a man who laid himself on the floor of the church after receiving the sacrament. Another was of an old man who was carried to the Table by his sons. And finally, there was the scene of one sobbing at the rail and praying over and over, "Thank You, thank You, thank You."
As I remember a lifetime of Table Gatherings, I am amazed that anyone could encounter God at such moments. The tradition of which I am a part has not always been intentional about creating a spiritual environment conducive to divine encounter. It has been far more intentional about being expedient and efficient in time management. In many places the kneeling at the altar has been replaced by a pause in the pace in the coming and going and the receiving of the open hands has been replaced by a grab and go mentality. And, the role of priest at the Table has been replaced by the administrative presider who participates as a spectator instead of a servant.
Some would say these things speak of what must be done when crowds at churches get large. But, I wonder. Where is the room for divine encounters? Where is the place for lingering and responding? Where is the time for people to realize that Jesus is in the room? When the church worships by the clock something is going to be lost. What is lost could be an earth rocking, soul shaking sense of the presence of Jesus.