It seems we have this conversation a lot with our boys. We tell them that we don't say words like that in our family, that we love one another because we are family and because God placed us together. We stress that these are the relationships that we must guard most closely because our parents and brothers and aunts and uncles and grandparents will be with us the rest of our lives. Even when we are halfway around the world, these relationships will come with us. They are gifts to be cherished.
Some say that the very repetition of the liturgy, Sunday after Sunday, renders it meaningless, but I don't agree. The words I say matter, not because of how I feel about them, but because the truth in them has power to change me. Every Sunday, as I recite the Nicene Creed and pray the prayer of confession and offer the "Peace of Christ" to those around me, those words mean something.
Whether I have conjured enough faith in my heart or paid enough attention to each word that Sunday matters little. I have chosen to say those words and those words have meaning. By saying them, I choose to be transformed by them and to join the community of the church, both in that building on Sunday and throughout all of history.
Some Sundays I am distracted by children or exhausted by life and go through almost an entire liturgy without thinking about what I am saying. But it never fails that one word or phrase or prayer jolts me out of my distraction and reminds me of the cosmic reality, the meaning behind those words.
"The Lord be with you."
"And also with you."
We say these words every Sunday during the Eucharistic liturgy, as the priest begins preparing the table. So often I have said it and only half thought about it, but this past week, as I looked at our pastor and dear friend who was serving the Eucharist, the meaning behind what I said moved me to tears. Suddenly I knew, beyond any doubt, that I truly wanted the Lord, in all of His fullness, to be with our rector and with that beautiful group of people gathered to commune around His table. Because of that moment, because of the meaning of those words, my soul was changed. I am certain that when I am halfway around the world and remembering that liturgy, even as my church family is saying it aloud together, my soul will be knit to theirs. I know that, because the Lord is with me and also with them, we are united in His love.
Words have meaning, and when I say them I am transformed. When we say them together, our souls are united in worship. No matter how alone I am feeling in a foreign country, no matter how much my faith may whither, I can speak the words of the liturgy and know that there is a greater truth than how I am feeling. The Word, who cares about my feelings and my struggles, meets me in that liturgy, and the strength of the community sustains me when I am too weak to say the words alone.
We love one another because we are family and because God placed us together. These are the relationships that we must guard most closely because our spiritual parents and brothers and aunts and uncles and grandparents will be with us the rest of our lives. Even when we are halfway around the world, these relationships will come with us. They are gifts to be cherished.
~~~"The Lord be with you..."
"I love you Auntie S."
And so Calvin and Hobbes say the words of apology and love, sometimes sincerely and sometimes still protesting in their hearts while they repeat what we have said. But they say them because those words have the power to transform them, to remind them that they do love, to unite them to a truth greater than their own emotions.
"I love you Auntie S."