We all have seen them, those short pithy statements that are meant to render God-talk into something readable from the car behind while traveling at 60 plus miles per hour. Most true theologians hate them. I'm a big fan of what I call bumper sticker theology - I find that there are times when the best one can offer a person in distress is one of these. We throw them out like life-lines in an attempt to keep our friends from sinking into the abyss of despair that some of us know so well.
Today was one of those days for me. I was hurting because I missed an absent friend too soon taken from us here below and I really needed reassurance. Amazingly, this little piece of wisdom came from a Homily given at a Mass I attended today. Father told us a story of a 12th century saint; Francis of Asissi.
The story goes that he was showing a novice of his order how to preach in the town. They walked through the town, the younger monk following a few paces behind. The entire day Francis spent helping the poor, offering a hand where needed, and in one case his cloak to someone who didn't have one. When they came back to their starting place the younger monk asked "But Master, where did you preach?" to which Francis replied, "Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words."
Our God is a God of presence. I AM -- the God of the present moment. If we want to offer our best to our friends, the most important thing we can give them is our presence. I got through this day because I had friends around me who gave me a hug, or a smile, or shared their tissues when I needed them. It was then that it occurred to me that my absent friend isn't forever lost to me, she lives in that wonderful congregation the Communion of Saints. She now lives in the Love that is God, and that love extends to me through the people who love me, and those I love. It still may hurt to think of her, but each time the memories are sweeter.
So I guess my end of the day bumper sticker should be: We are an Easter People, and Alleluia is our Song.