Dear Sisters and Brothers,

The Lord be with you.

We say it all the time, don’t we? What does it mean? I think it can mean at least three different things! The most common concept behind the exchange (“The Lord be with you. And also with you.”) is that we are bidding or praying that God would be present with the other person or people. We do wish for that, of course. But let’s also recognize that God, in both testaments, has PROMISED to be with us. Jesus tells His disciples, “I am with you always. Even to ages of ages.” So while “The Lord be with you” can certainly be a prayer or wish, it is also a declaration of what we already know to be true. “The Lord is with you”. He will never abandon us.

But I see potential for yet a third meaning. When we declare that the Lord is with you, we also recognize the Image of God in that person. When I say it to the congregation, I am seeing that God’s very image resides in each individual present and also in the family of God as a whole.

Someone has asked me about “all the bowing you do” at the altar. What’s THAT about? Well, we do bow toward the tabernacle and the holy table when we know the consecrated bread and wine are present. They contain the very Presence of our Lord. But I don’t just bow toward the altar or the tabernacle. I bow when the washing of hands is performed. I bow when I receive the unconsecrated communion elements. I bow when someone closes the altar rail.

I do this because the Presence of Jesus—while it is certainly there in the tabernacle—is also very much in each and every one of you. That means you are a person of infinite value and worth. God loves you and you are worth loving. That knowledge can change everything for us. The Lord is with you, dear friend.

Fr. Jim