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Q: What do you understand by “the communion of saints”?

A. First, that believers one and all,
as members of this community,
share in Christ
and in all his treasures and gifts.

Second, that each member
should consider it a duty
to use these gifts
readily and joyfully
for the service and enrichment
of the other members.

Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 55

My uncle was recently traveling to work, and in a town that wasn’t his own, he happened upon a woman, hiding and crying. She was crying because her 29-year old sister was dying at a world-class hospital a few hours away. She needed a liver transplant. But she could not get approved for it because she could not stop drinking for sixty days. 

My uncle prayed with her. And then he posted on Facebook, requesting that we pray for her, too.

I don’t know what happened to those sisters after I prayed, after I joined the scores of others who also prayed. But I know what happened to me: I remembered the communion of the saints, and I remembered why it was that I believe.

We share in Christ, the Catechism says, and in all his treasures and gifts. I’m so grateful that this woman met my uncle that day — my uncle is exactly the person I would want to happen upon me in a moment like that. He has a kindness that isn’t performative, a depth of compassion that only the ones who have suffered themselves can know. When my uncle prays, it’s a treasure; a gift. 

I think often, when I read this blog, that it is a gift. And that’s because of the real people whose voices show up here, every day. We don’t get paid; we sometimes don’t even get thanked! But we carry with gratitude this invitation to share our reflections, to hear from others, to use writing and reading as part of our journey of following Christ. 

The Catechism says we should consider it a duty to use the gifts we have received. And sometimes, I’ll admit, it feels like a duty. My husband will attest that Wednesday nights are my crabbiest time of the week, when I groan and gnash my teeth because I just have nothing at all I can think of to write about. But most often, in the morning, I recognize it: the unexpected joy of being understood, of sharing a comfort, of being known, of encouraging or challenging someone else. When that happens, it feels like a returning of the favor, since so many of the words others post on this blog have meant something significant to me. 

We aren’t meant to live this life alone. Especially in this pandemic time, I’d been so grateful for the voices on this blog, who have kept me thinking, laughing, praying, asking. Who have kept me company. The communion of saints.

If you, like me, are grateful for the voices here, we ask that you consider a small donation to keep this project going.

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Kate Kooyman

Rev. Kate Kooyman is a minister of the Reformed Church in America who lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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