The Greatest of These is Love

Author:  Karen Hoover

Love bears all things . . . hopes all things, 1 Corinthians 13:7

On Good Friday at 4:30 in the afternoon we entered the sanctuary, having made a COVID timed-entry appointment to see the Butterfly Memorial Project, installed to hang from our beautiful, historic rafters. After pausing in the narthex to honor those killed in the King Soopers shooting, we entered the sanctuary—and it immediately took our breath away.

As the late afternoon sun played through the windows, the butterflies seemed to be so much more than simply folded origami shapes. They were all sizes and colors, folded from plain and printed papers by congregation members of all ages, threaded in single-hued or multi-colored strands. Threaded at different points, they seemed to be fluttering in all directions. We didn’t count but had heard there were over 3000! And when we reflected on how each carried a prayer, or a memory, or a name we were thankful to be a part of a congregation lifting up each prayer to be held in the loving care of God.

As we moved forward under the butterflies, gazes still fixed upward, we came to four tables arrayed just in front of the chancel. We began our pilgrimage at the Prayer Station for Creation Justice, which invited us to first post a note about our own complicity in injustice, and then to post a note describing our personal action commitment toward achieving God’s justice.

From there, we continued to the Prayer Station of Release. Here we were invited to write something that we need to release in our own life that is holding us back—and then to place the special paper in the bowl of water – and watch it disappear.

Then we came to a bowl of sand at the Prayer Station of Support and Hope. In the sand was a word written by an earlier pilgrim for us to lift up in prayer to support and offer hope to that pilgrim on their journey. After brushing the sand, we wrote our own words for the next pilgrim, knowing that we, too, would receive a prayer.

At the Prayer Station of God’s Love, we received red hearts, one inscribed with the word “Love” and the other inscribed “Hope.” After lighting our candles from the Christ candle, we prayed the closing prayer, and with our appointment time expiring, returned under the canopy of butterflies to the back of the sanctuary, choosing a butterfly from the bowl to take home, and after taking one very long look back before reluctantly departing, greeted the next pilgrim.

Commitment, release, support, love and hope . . . but the greatest of these is love.

Dear God, we give thanks for all who ministered to us as we made our Good Friday journey: the Arts Ministry volunteers for their hours of patient labor to create such an ethereal experience; the greeters; the staff and volunteers who made each prayer station a powerful experience and sent us home with prayers and poems for further reflection; and our Ministers who each week rekindle in us the love and hope we commit to share with others. Amen.


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