There I was, feeling a bit like a fish out of water—an English-only Southern Baptist at a Hispanic Catholic funeral.
Everyone around me was kneeling at the appropriate times and responding in unison to the memorized litany (of which I was completely ignorant). I didn’t understand the order of service or what was being said.
I squirmed to the max when the priest introduced communion (bilingually) and instructed the congregation—he sure seemed to be looking right at me—that if we weren’t Catholic we should not take communion, but could come forward, if we so chose, with our arms crossed over our chests to receive a blessing.
Um. Okay. I need all the blessings I can get, I thought, slipping into the queue that had formed in front of the priest. I felt immensely heart-touched when my turn arrived and the priest flashed me a warm smile as he gently laid his hand on my shoulder and whispered a lovely blessing.
When I returned to my seat, I noticed a woman with a seeing-eye dog taking her turn in the blessing line. To my astonishment, after the priest had finished blessing the woman, he bent down and blessed the dog too.
Suddenly I felt very, well, included. A piece of a larger puzzle. A vital part of that ‘communion of saints’ we talk about in the Apostles Creed. Not just a chosen denomination, all believers, or saints as the Bible calls them; “…those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling…” (1 Corin 1:2 NASB).
Who knows? Maybe our beloved furry friends are included too. I like to picture a doggy door on the pearly gates.
Just imagine what heaven will be like when thousands upon thousands of people redeemed by Christ from different nations and cultures are gathered together in one enormous sea of praise, all worshiping Papa God in one accord. No one will worry about the right time to stand, sit, or kneel, or the correct words to say at the correct time. It’ll all be good. We’ll each be praising and singing and howling our worship in our own styles.
And Papa God will flash each of us a big, warm smile and bless us all the way down to our toes.
Sounds totally heavenly to me. Will you be there, my friend?