The Apostles' Creed:
- 1. I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.
- 2. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
- 3. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary.
- 4. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried.
- 5. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again.
- 6. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
- 7. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
- 8. I believe in the Holy Spirit,
- 9. the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
- 10. the forgiveness of sins,
- 11. the resurrection of the body,
- 12. and life everlasting.
Maybe I thought it meant that only Christians can take Communion. Perhaps I thought it meant that believers all over the world are one in Christ. What I honestly never meditated on what it could really mean.
When I became a Christian I joined myself to Christ and His mystical body--the Church. I am in full-communion with Christ, the Father and the Holy Spirit. Death may sever my body from my soul temporarily, but it does not sever the communion of my soul with God. I will be every bit as much joined to Christ at my death as I am in my life--when I am taking the Body and Blood on a Sunday morning.
And so, those who are in Christ are always in Christ. And Christ's body is not divided. Fellowship is fellowship. Therefore those who have gone ahead of me into glory are still in communion--because we are all in Christ.
What a comforting thought.
"And this is what liturgy offers that all the razzmatazz of our modern worship can’t touch. You don’t go home from church going, ‘Oh, I am just moved to tears.’ You go home from church going, ‘Wow, I just took communion, and you know what if Augustine were alive today he would’ve had it with me. And maybe he is. And maybe he did.” (Rich Mullins)
My loved ones who have died in Christ are not lost to me. In fact, they are part of that Great Cloud of Witnesses. If Jesus is at the right hand of God making intercession for us, so are the members of His body. Which is why it does not trouble this protestant girl to ask saints--living and breathing whom I sit next to on Sunday or those glorified in heaven--to pray for me.
What prompted this theological reflection?
On Sunday afternoon I lay down for a nap. I had one of those vivid full-color dreams (not of the creepy third trimester variety). I was alone in my bed when my water broke. And the baby presented footling breech. I tried to call out, but there was no one around. I was so scared. My grandfather (who passed away in June) came into the room. He looked exactly how he looked about 15 or so years ago. Younger, with a smile on his face, wearing a green polo shirt. He said, "You are doing great!" I said, "Grandpa, the baby is coming feet first! I don't know what to do!" Standing there at the foot of my bed, he patted my belly and said, "Don't worry. Everything is going to be OK. Just don't worry. You are doing great and the baby will be OK." Immediately I was at peace. He walked out of the room. My Grandmother (who is still very much alive in this world!) came in just in time to see me have another contraction and the baby came out all in one push. The baby went up on my stomach, skin-to-skin. A little girl. With brown curly hair. Everything was just fine.
I woke up.
I think, somewhere in my mind or soul, I've been concerned about this birth. Can't put my finger on why, really. Just wondering if everything will go as smoothly as my other births. Some evil voice says, "what makes you think your good luck is going to keep up?" That sort of ridiculousness. But, I awoke from that dream feeling so much peace and confidence.
Also was a little teary-eyed feeling like I had just seen my Grandpa and like he was really watching over me.
To steal from Rich Mullins: Maybe I did. And maybe he is.