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Friday Evening

A Service of Remembrance and Holy Communion

The Rev. Fred Okella from the Eastern Shore issued the call to worship. Chad Sokolowski from the Charlottesville District led the gathering in prayer. The Scripture was read from Isaiah 40.

  The Rev. Ileana Rosario

The Rev. Ileana Rosario, the evening's preacher, read from the Book of Revelation. Rosario is the pastor of Lower UMC, York River District.

The Lamb will lead them to the springs of life- giving water and God will wipe every tear from their eyes, she read. "Can you see the crowds?" she asked. "The crowd is enormous. Not one of them is angry. No one is arguing. Imagine all the nations together they are now holding hands! How did that happen? Who are those people?" She said we call them the "people of God," "holy nations," the "believers."

Rosario said, "Tonight, we call them the communion of saints. It's the mystery. This amazing spirit from God brings together the lives of these people. Their hearts are united in this amazing love that never ends."

She continued, "It's a mystery we don't understand. We don't know how, but we trust," she said. "We are one in Christ. The communion of saints is the promise that even though we have to say goodbye to them we will see them again. That love never ends and continues to unite us forever."

She related her tradition from the Caribbean. Many people came from Africa and they were freed slaves. But they were still slaved by their fears. Some Catholic Spanish nuns taught them to read and write and use the Bible. Two of those kids who learned were her grandparents. "Together they learned and they worked hard. Rosario was a slave name. They found a little town where no one had ever seen anyone so dark. But they were welcomed. And they married and raised families. When we are together, we will be rainbow people."

  Liturgical dance was part of the service.

Rosario's grandfather welcomed Americans to their community and her family learned from them. They were the first Protestants. A fire came and destroyed the town. Her grandfather gave land to the people so they could relocate and begin again. "The communion of saints means the blessings are multiplied," Rosario said. "The communion of saints is a miracle of love. it ties us together, heart to heart, soul to soul."

Rosario's grandmother didn't know how to read. The missionaries left a Bible and she would have the grandchildren read from it so she could memorize it. "Passing the faith, passing the wisdom, passing the way we should live," Rosario said.

Her grandmother would cook for everyone in the community if they were hungry, singing and dancing and moving her hips.

She continued, "That's why we are here tonight. To remember those who came before us. Every time we tell the story we honor their memory and we honor the Lord. Even after they pass the communion of saints is the promise that we will see them again, that we will be together again, that we will be able to hug them again. We will be in the throne of God celebrating. No one has be to afraid. Together dancing, together singing, together glorifying the Lord. We will always be one in Christ because love never ends."

Susan Reaves read the names of those being memorialized. Candles were lit in their memory. There were three candles that were lit on stage in memory of the three who lost their lives in Charlottesville last summer.

Bishop Lewis presided over a service of Holy Communion that was was served to those gathered.

Bishop Lewis dismissed the gathering asking, "Can you love on somebody before you leave? Amen."

Bishop Lewis distributes the elements for Communion


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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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