Surrounded by Love

The collect (or prayer) for this past Sunday—the Sixth Sunday of Easter:

O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: our into our hearts such love towards you, that we, love you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Photo Credit: Michael W. May Flickr via Compfight cc

As I heard that prayer read out loud—Christine, our sabbatical supply priest, presided at the service so she read it—I was overcome by the expression both of love and of God’s preparation of good things that surpass our understanding. As I embark on this sabbatical, I am so overwhelmed by that love I’ve felt both by God and the people of St. Mark’s and our wider community. This grand adventure has many good things already, so I cannot begin to fathom how it may surpass my understanding!

At the end of the service on Sunday, Christine called me up and had the assembled body lay hands on me. Those in the front row and in the choir, directly and those who couldn’t reach me themselves put their hand on the person in front of them, stretching all the way back in that packed church.  My eyes welled up when she began praying for me, words I do not recall, but I know they were beautiful.

A circle of love surrounded me.

I will carry that feeling with me in the days ahead, and cannot wait to experience and share the many good things of this summer sabbatical.