Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive (him or her) into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light.
I don’t know about other denominations, but if you are a Lutheran, you have probably heard this prayer at the graveside of many funerals. Recently I’ve been reading a book entitled And Then We Grew Up by Rachel Friedman. The author interviews a number of students who attended a music and arts camp for children, describing where they are today in the pursuit of their talent. Almost all described that camp as a defining experience for them, a place where they were finally among others who “got” them, who understood their passion and their drive to develop it. This was true whether they became professional musicians or not.
It occurs to me that we, as Christians, are “sheep of the same fold” and in gathering together we experience that same kind of comfort and acceptance. In our congregation we are among others who, unlike the world, understand our desire to know and serve Christ. It’s a place where, like the students, we learn discipline in practicing and using our abilities. It’s a place where we join together in worship and teamwork. It should be an experience that defines us, that we carry with us wherever we go and whatever we do.
The music camp was not without conflict. There was rivalry and stress. There were teachers who were encouraging and others who were not. There were campers who were loved and some who were difficult. But all those things were less important than the underlying and binding goal of becoming the best artists and musicians the students could be.
Is your congregation like that for you? If not, it should be. We share the same goal, we serve the same God; we gather together to grow better in our efforts to become sanctified. These are the people who “get” that. We are sheep of the same fold.
For more on Rachel Friedman’s book go to this post: