Communion in Dublin (resend) – by David Brauner


Song: “God’s Extended Hand”

I’m sitting in a pew in a one-thousand-year-old cathedral in Dublin, Ireland bathed by an ethereal choir song of organ and voices that rings off the ancient stones majestically, like you might experience at the coronation of a king or queen; listening to a priest, a woman, preaching love and acceptance, calling out the unique challenges of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters, in a country where centuries of struggle and oppression and violence and division continue to weigh on the population, like a medieval millstone, whose forbearers suffered a particularly cruel occupation- their land and rights taken, the practice of their chosen religion banned, economic and educational opportunities denied, where they endured intentional starvation in a famine that left one million dead; where a lingering animosity, born from this dark history, refuses to extinguish, like an unsettled spirit that can’t rest, it makes its presence known when agitated, a subtext that haunts life here and casts a long shadow over most everything, and my thoughts drift to my homeland, America, where my forebearers journeyed in pursuit of freedom and opportunity, and where today, the unthinkable seems possible, that the rule of law and the underpinnings of our democracy are not immutable, that there is no guarantee that our freedoms will endure, that what was paid for in blood by those who proceeded us is at risk, while we, the most privileged and blessed society in the history of humankind divide into tribes, mired in abject disagreement on everything, including the reality of events that unfold right before our eyes, and then, my gaze shifts to an African-looking priest, robed in the elaborate garments of the Church of Ireland, processing past me down the marbled center aisle, holding a bejeweled staff in his left hand and an eight or nine-year old boy in the other, perhaps a relative- sneakered, shirt untucked, scruffy like any youth his age, shuffling alongside the stiffed-back, formally-garbed priest, tracing the steps of untold worshipers over a thousand years, nobility and commoners, kings and queens and serfs, young and old and the Scripture is read- the unchanging, enduring word of God that recalls an itinerate preacher, Jesus, being admonished by the religious authorities of his day, who are so fixed on the practice of their religion that they are unable to behold miracles, performed by the Son of God, right before their eyes, as retold in Mark 2 and 3:

“One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain.  The Pharisees said to him, ‘Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?’ He answered, ‘Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need? In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.’ Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath’; And from Mark 3: “And [Jesus] said to them, ‘Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?’ But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was restored’;

and so on this sabbath, in this magnificent building, in this ancient, deeply burdened and abundantly joyous land, the wafer melts in my mouth, the formality reminding me of my First Holy Communion; the taste of bitter wine taken from a gold chalice, wiped by the priest with a white linen cloth as each congregant partakes, before a vast altar, a small tear wells in the corner of my eye as the priest recites the promise of our faith, a covenant that transcends the entirety of human history, both tragic and triumphant, a healing thread that knits us together through time into this very moment, she says: “Wherever you are from and whatever you believe, you are welcome to receive at the table of the Lord.”  The song pairing is an updated demo of “God’s Extended Hand.”  Until next time, stay safe, be brave and keep walking in the light. 

God’s Extended Hand
Leaves drift on the breeze
in the afternoon sun
a soft October light
baptizes everyone
our kids kick up the piles
in their innocent fun
and God’s extended hand
it touches everyone

The least will increase
just down the line
upside down and right side up
all in good time
the hour maybe be late
but the day is still young
and God’s extended hand
it touches everyone

God’s extended hand
He makes the planets spin
we’ll say goodbye for now  
but I’ll see you again

Contradiction and fact,
one thing that I can see,
I’ve been stone blind
to what’s right in front of me
from eternity ’til now
and back to day one
God’s extended hand
it touches everyone


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