Saturday, July 19, 2008
The phone rang around 7:00 this morning. A church member calling to give some terrible news about another church member. By 8:00, I'd driven to a large, downtown hospital. By 10:00, I was home, having prayed with and for a family during the death of a family member.
It is an odd thing, to begin the day this way. To be a part of such a sacred, tragic, beautiful moment, when the baptism of this blessed saint of God became complete in her death. By 10:15, I was out running mundane errands with my daughter, but not long before, I talked with family about organ donation and funerals and other rituals of such great importance.
The Presbyterian blogosphere has been full of 'political' talk since the General Assembly finished their work last month. Some are angry with the results; some are elated. But families who call their pastor early on Saturday morning, needing someone to remind them of God's presence even in the face of death and tragedy, these families are not worried about the Book of Order or the theological conservatism or liberalism of their pastor's seminary or the Essential Tenets of the Reformed Faith.
I am reminded that being a pastor is nothing special, really. I have no medical expertise, nor do I bring any practical aide in the midst of a gaping emptiness. But I know enough from these past ten years that showing up is 99% of what the church is about. Show up, try not to say anything too stupid or thoughtless. Show up with Bible or Prayer Book in hand, touch the still-warm hand of the one who has gone to be with her Savior. No great sermon or ministry program or Bible study matters in the ICU of a downtown, high rise medical facility.
I love the UCC's slogan: "God is still speaking." I think that "God is still showing up" doesn't have the same style... but it is true, and something that the Church needs to see from her clergy -- God is still showing up.