Harry Was A Minister 8-19-2018

I have a special story for us. I believe there is a powerful lesson for all of us in this story:
Harry never even vaguely considered himself a minister in his church. “Come on,” he would say. “The people who give out the Eucharist, the ones who lecture, maybe they are ministers, but me…. I’m just an usher.
A young priest in Harry’s parish had given a talk on the “ministry” of a greeter, but Harry wasn’t buying that “malarkey.” He said he was just trying to “give the pastor a hand” by taking up the collection, steering people to Holy Communion and saying hello to parishioners when they came into church.
Harry believed that, until one cold March night he came home from work and his wife told him the pastor called. Harry returned the call and the pastor told him that a letter had been received at the rectory. The letter was simply addressed to “Harry the usher.”
The priest said that since he was the only usher called Harry, would he please pick up his letter. Harry, intrigued by the request, complied and on the way home ripped open the envelope and in the dim light of the car read the following:
Dear Harry, I don’t know your last name, but I guess that’s fair. You don’t know mine either. I’m Gert, Gert form the 8:00 am Mass. I am writing you for a couple of reasons, and I hope you will understand. One of the reasons is to ask a favor. I am not particularly close to any of the priests in the parish but somehow I feel close to you. I don’t even know how you got to know my first name, but every Sunday morning when I walked into Mass you smiled and greeted me and called me by my name. We would exchange a few words that were perhaps meaningless to most like how bad the weather was; how much you like my Easter hat and how late I was on a particular Sunday.
I don’t have any close family left, Harry. My husband has been dead for 16 years and the kids are scattered. Not too many people smile and greet an old lady like me, but you did.
Harry, in the little time left to me, I just wanted to say thank you. Thank you for the thoughtfulness; for remembering my name is Gert; for the smiles and little laughter; the consideration and the conversation. Now for the favor, I am dying Harry. My time is running out. It is not important that you come to my wake, but what is important to me is that when they bring me to church for Mass for the last time, you will be standing at the front entrance. It wouldn’t seem right if you weren’t standing to say “Hello Gert.” “Good to see you.”
If you are there, Harry, I will feel assured that your warm hospitality in my home parish will be duplicated by Peter, Jesus, and Mary in my new parish, my new home. I hope they will say as you always did, “Hello Gert.” “It is good to see you.”
The lady who wrote that letter recently was buried from her parish church. Harry did stand at the entrance. He smiled and said the words Gert wanted to hear as he gently touched the coffin. Harry gave Gert Eucharist.
Eucharist, when will we learn that Eucharist is so much more than the ritual, following along the missallete, an obligation, a passive congregation, a me and God experience, a place to be entertained, a how fast can I get out of here happening.
Eucharist, so much more; two sides of the same coin. Jesus present in the Bread and Wine, and Gods’ word, the flip side, Jesus present in the people. Eucharist, so much more. When will we learn.


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