By Michele LeDoux Sakurai
Listen … God surrounds us with abundant love. Listen … The flowing, gentle melody of a single flute reveals the sacred space that we have entered.
This introduction to the Service of Anointing was a powerful moment for centering. Led by Fr. Richard Bartoszek, who served as the 2016 NACC conference chair for liturgy, the participants once again experienced the best that both church and community have to offer. Consistent with all the services during the conference, this time of anointing wove the beauty of music, prayer, and ritual that revitalized and renewed all who attended.
As the music introduced and grounded the participants, the proclamation of the Gospel of Mark 2:1-12 and the words of insight and compassion by Chaplain Bridget Deegan-Krause inspired a sense of awe. Yes, the love of God is timeless, and it is radical. Chaplain Deegan-Krause focused her reflection on the fidelity, the compassion, and the creativity of the four friends in Mark’s Gospel. These friends would not be discouraged by the barriers they encountered. They chose another route and lowered their sick friend through a roof in their attempt to reach Jesus. They “broke through the roof” to gain our Lord’s healing. What faith these friends exhibited! What a bold action! It is this bold action that delighted Jesus.
We, as a community of faith, best reveal the love of God when we act boldly together in service to address the needs of another. Chaplain Deegan-Krause’s words of invitation grounded and empowered those of us at the tables as we stood in solidarity with those requesting this wondrous sacrament. Five celebrants moved from table to table sharing the anointing of healing and of community; all found renewal. The abundance of God’s love reverberated and was given voice in the words of the final hymn, Healing River of the Spirit,
“Bathe the flows to bring release; plunge our pain, our sin, our sadness,
Deep beneath your sacred springs, weary from the restless searching that has lured us from your side.
We discover in your presence, peace the world cannot provide.” Amen.
Michele LeDoux Sakurai, BCC, is manager of spiritual care at Providence Health Care-Stevens County in Colville, WA.