Earlier today, I visited one of our congregation's shut-ins. She received Holy Communion. We visited and we prayed. I've been visiting this 90-something woman almost monthly for nearly two years now. Near the end of each visit, after she's received the Sacrament and we've prayed together, she looks at me and says with great earnestness, "Thank you."
But today, something different happened.
I usually hug members of our congregation on Sunday mornings, whether during the Sharing of the Peace or while greeting them at the door after the service. (It turns out, by the way, that that greeting is less likely to pass along germs than is a handshake. So, it has two advantages: cleanliness AND Christian warmth.)
But, I don't usually hug the shut-ins, mainly because as members of an older generation, they tend to be more reserved. Besides, they're not standing in a sanctuary of Lutherans hugging each other: They were never accustomed to that and there's nothing of what the sociologists call, "acculturation" to support such a departure from their past practices.
So today, I reached out to shake Wilma's hand. She moved closer, wrapped her arms around me, and gave me a peck on the cheek.
Now, I assure you that didn't happen because I'm such a wonderful guy. It had everything to do with Jesus, Whose sacrifice of Himself we had just celebrated again, Whose body and blood Wilma had just received. In the cross of Christ and in His sacrifice of Self for sinners like me (and you), we do see the depths of God's love. In the bread and wine--the body and blood of Jesus--we receive that love again.
Wilma was and is thankful for Jesus and His cross. You can be too. "Believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved..." (Acts 16:31).
Read today's devotion at Our Daily Bread.
Be sure also to read the words of Jesus on which it's based.