Is Your Family Stormproof?
Tough times will arrive for every person, every family. And when those challenges come, only your faith will carry you. I walked into church that day, that Tuesday, with a heart heavy and a spirit sad. We had lost dear little Anna, a fellow parishioner, barely nine years old, who had died after nine challenging months suffering with leukemia. We grieved that morning. We prayed, we sang, we shared scripture. And we shared the Eucharist, the meal of life. Then her grandfather made his way to the microphone. He wanted to share little Anna's favorite Bible story with us. He remarked that the family always found it odd that Anna never let anybody else read this story to her. She always insisted on reading it aloud herself, even though she was just nine. Then he began to read from a children's Bible like this. During the 40 days after Jesus' resurrection, Jesus appeared to his disciples from time to time. He spoke to them about the kingdom of God. Once, he told them to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the gift he would send them. That gift would be the Holy Spirit. He would live in them and guide them. He would be a comforter to them. Jesus wanted them to tell everyone on Earth that he had died for them. He told them to teach and to baptize those who believed. And after Jesus said this, he was taken up to heaven right in front of their eyes. A cloud hid him from their sight. And two angels, who looked like men dressed in white, came and stood beside them.
The angel said, "Why are you looking up in the sky?" This same Jesus who has been taken up into heaven will come back someday in the same way you have seen him go into heaven. We also believe that he will come again. As Anna's grandfather finished reading this story, his eyes welled up with tears. He told us that each time Anna had read this passage to him, when she was finished, her eyes looked directly at him. At first, she looked with questioning eyes, but then her eyes turned into knowing eyes. She knew. Little Anna knew. She really, really knew. As her grandfather shared this experience with us, at that moment, the air in the church became so thick that I couldn't see. I couldn't move. I was transfixed. At that moment, all around me was a cloud. The place was filled with the glory of God. A little nine year old girl speaking to her grandfather had reminded me. In fact, little Anna had reminded all of us. Jesus will live in you and comfort you. He will walk this path alongside you, and indeed, he will come again. Little Anna taught us powerfully, in life's toughest moments, your faith will make all the difference. God alone will see you through. And every family needs to know that.