Monday, June 27, 2005

the Billy Graham Crusade

I have great admiration for The Rev. Billy Graham, who yesterday may have delivered his final crusade sermon. His last crusade here in the Bay Area was in 1997 which I attended, and I remember being quite moved by it. I think Catholic priests as preachers ought to take note of how Graham preaches if they haven't been doing so already.

There is one thing in that crusade though that I found a bit lacking. As is the custom in his crusades, after the sermon folks who have not yet accepted Christ, or who wish to recommit themselves to Him, were invited to come forward and to give themselves to God. The sight of all those people in 1997 at the stadium coming forward was immensely stunning. As a person of faith, I couldn’t help but be heartened by that sight.

I imagined myself for a moment moving up there and joining the crowd. And once I arrive at the foot of the stage I would repent and be sorry for all the sins I’ve committed and ask for pardon. And then I would resolve to offer everything I have and am to God.

I would have connected to God intellectually, mentally, morally, and spiritually. I would have said “yes” to God at those levels.

But where’s the physical? I am a physical being and I respond to touch. After that rousing sermon, I wanted to be physically connected too. That was the bit I found lacking.

What the Eucharist offers me is a physical connection, a physical intimacy with God Himself. It is a physical touch–-an embrace from God through Christ’s Body and Blood.

At the crusade, people were asked to come forward and “accept” Jesus mentally, spiritually; at Catholic Masses, folks are invited to come forward, accept God, and “receive” Him as well physically.

I say what an immense gift we have been given: to be able to enter into this kind of physical intimacy. It would be a greater gift to be moved to receive Communion after a great sermon like Graham's.

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