Every Wednesday our staff gathers for a time of prayer where we look at the readings for the Sunday coming up, pray for all the prayers on our envelopes, and the needs of the community. Each staff member takes a turn leading this time and each one brings their own flavor to this time of prayer. This week, Torri Winn shared a reflection by Deacon Nick Senger that she found online and adapted. We wanted to share that reflection with you here (after the adapted reflection below, there is a link to the original, longer reflection, online).
Have you ever looked at people’s hands; the hands of your grandmother or grandfather, Or at the hands of an elderly friend? The hands of a chef, a custodial worker, a mom/dad? Then you’ve had a glimpse of their life story.
Each pair of hands has a story to tell, and the older we get, the more our hands have to say. Some hands are scarred or spotted. A hand can have callouses or be as smooth as lotion. No two hands are alike. Each hand in the world has its own unique creases and landmarks. No two fingers have the same fingerprints. Written on our hands is the story of our lives and the choices we have made.
The readings this weekend speak to us of the choices that lie in our own two hands. The book of Sirach tells us God has set before us fire and water. To whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Life or death. Good or evil. Water of Life or Fiery Gehenna. The choice is in our hands.
In the gospel Jesus tells us that we have the choice to break the commandments or to obey the commandments. The choice is in our hands. …or is it?
We make the choice in our hearts, and our hands make it happen.
What do our hands tell us about the choices our hearts have made?
What story do they tell?
God sets before us fire and water, And it is up to us to decide to which we will stretch out our hands.
We each have a choice to make. And the actions of the hands reveal the choices of the heart.
We may intend to do good, and we may know the right thing to do. But no matter what we intend to do, we discover what we truly choose by the story we read in our hands.
God’s hands tell a story too.
We can see the workings of God’s heart by looking at those hands:
The hands that smeared spit and mud and cured a man’s blindness.
The hands that touched the leper and made him clean.
The hands that drew Lazarus forth from the grave.
The hands that broke bread, blessed it, and gave it to his disciples.
The hands that washed their feet.
The hands outstretched on the cross.
With his hands, Jesus freely embraced the will of the Father; He chose Life over death. Good over evil. Relationship over rebellion. And his wounded hands tell the story.
Like Jesus, we are free to decide. God does not tie our hands. He lets us choose. God will never use violence to force our hand. God is persuasive, assertive, and direct. But never tyrannical. There are no handcuffs in heaven.
We can choose to break commandments or to break bread, to build up or tear down.
When we gather as a community to renew our decision to choose the Water of Life and reject the Fiery Gehenna, and extend our hands in a sign of peace, and offer the story of our lives to our neighbors – No matter what our hands say about the choices we have made in the past, today we offer our lives to each other in peace, and recommit ourselves to choosing life.
We approach the altar and stretch out our hands to accept the Body and Blood of Christ from the Hands of the minister of the Eucharist.
Our hands receive the One who holds us in His hands…
And once again our stories will become the One Story…
And we will know it as well as we know the back of our hands.
Read the original complete reflection by clicking here.