She was tiny, old and had difficulty walking. She’d been missed as the plate was passed through the congregation. Determined to make her offering, she came forward, with the assistance of a friend, and climbed the steps to the altar. She dropped her pesos into the plate, smiled at the bishops and made her way back among the people.
It was a lovely moment in the midst of a wonderful celebration in which Griselda Delgado del Carpio was consecrated as the Co-adjutor Bishop for the Diocese of Cuba. People had driven great distances to pray for her and their beloved church and its witness to Christ. At the offertory, Bishop Miguel Tamayo Zaldivar announced that all the gifts would be given to relief efforts in Haiti. The congregation burst into applause and made their offerings with joy.
In Synod the day before, parish after parish reported on efforts in their communities to gather funds for the people of Haiti. The Episcopal Church Women reported and so did the youth. Moved by these testimonies, the bishop thanked the people and said Cubans give not out of wealth but out of their own poverty, and they do it time and again. Then he led the Synod in song.
Cuando el pobre nada tiene y aun reparte.
(When the poor person has nothing, he still shares.)
As the bishop prayed for the people of Haiti and for all who endeavour to help them, everyone said “Amen” and stood in silence as their prayers rose to God. “In his mercy the needy shall not be forgotten, and the hope of the poor shall not perish” (Psalm 9:18).
Here, I witnessed a profound truth and it is this–that our life in Christ is reflected in shared creedal faith, celebrating the sacraments of our redemption, embracing diversity within unity, praying for one another and giving generously for the relief of those who suffer through horrific disasters such as we have seen in Haiti.
We talk so much these days about communion and what it means to be one in Christ.
My reflections on these matters have been enriched by yet another
experience of the church in Cuba. I am deeply moved by their joy in believing, their steadfastness in ministry, their delight in companionship and their compassion in time of need. I am moved by the determination of an old woman to make her offering to help the people of Haiti.
Here is communion fully alive. It’s full of gladness, it’s holy, it’s generous. It’s absolutely beautiful and it’s pleasing to God.
Archbishop Fred Hiltz is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.