Friday, May 29, 2009

Tears and My Baptism

It has been a really hard week for me. I won't go into it. It doesn't matter. It's just been hard. There have been lots of tears, frustrations, anger, and sadness. I can't say my anxiety went off the handle, but I am sure that it plays a part somewhere in all of those emotions. However, all of this stuff pales in comparison to what I still have. Yeah, things are tough right now and hard to go through, but my baptism is still valid. In fact, God has a great reminder for us that our baptism is still valid built in to our own reaction to pain. Tears, as they wash over our face and cover our face in that salt water, also remind us of our washing and rebirth in baptism, where we were clothed in Christ. Even in pain, God points us to Him, to where He has promised to be, namely Word and Sacraments. It's kind of awesome that a God who has gone through what we have gone through also gives us reminders of His goodness and mercy.

No, it's not magic, and my week won't suddenly get all sunny and happy, but the reassurance of the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation is all I need to get through it.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Hunger and Thirst for the Sacrament

It's never fun to have an anxiety attack. I hate it when they happen. To make it worse, I had one in church on Sunday. What a place to have anxiety! The walls that have heard the words "Fear not. Be still and know that I am God," became witness to my sweaty palms, racing heart, and rapid breathing. My mind kept wandering to the coping strategies that help curb what was going on within me. Except, what was going on around me was exactly what I needed. When I turn to the strategies of reading the Word, I realized that I can find that in the Divine Service I was sitting though in that moment. Whether it is during the liturgy, the readings, and the prayers. The beginning of the service begins with the Invocation, as did my life in Christ at my baptism. Just in case I doubt that my sins are forgiven, the forgiveness of sins is pronounced in corporate confession and absolution.

However, my eyes focused on the Sacrament of the Altar. The medicine of immortality, as my pastor has said to me. Is it some sort of magic that would instantly fix my anxiety? No, not unless God willed it for me in that moment, but that was not what I was asking for anyhow. I wasn't looking for a miracle for my frail flesh, because I know what goes on there goes way past the moment of suffering I am going through. One fear that always gets me in my anxiety attacks is the fear of death, of either myself or my loved ones, and the Sacrament that I and my loved ones partake of is the Medicine of everlasting life.

My greatest fear has been defeated by Christ and given to me as a gift in my mouth and into my body. My broken, fearful self has perfection given to me in my body. I know that there is no merit or worthiness in me. Especially in the moment of anxiety, I know that it is all gift because there is nothing I can do to fix me. It must come from outside of me.

I found myself craving the Sacrament sitting in the pew. As I waited for the Service of the Sacrament, I heard the words of Christ assuring me that He was the Good Shepherd. That He is there to take care of me, when things are going well and when my anxiety is at its worst. During the sermon, my eyes looked to the crucifix, standing above the place where the Sacrament was found. It reminded me of exactly what I was getting in the Sacrament, that is, the very body and blood of Christ in, with, and under the bread and wine.

The Sacrament, which I may not see the full effects now but will definitely see when I am in Christ's kingdom in heaven, reassures me that I will not always be this way. I will be whole in heaven!! When I take part of the Eucharist, I get a foretaste of what is to come. For now, I must see it through the eyes of faith, but in heaven, I will see it with my own two eyes standing in the presence of God Almighty, who is my Good Shepherd and has taken such good care of me while I sojourn on earth.