It was 6:45 a.m. on Sunday morning, and already the day was complicated. I had just spent about forty-five minutes with a family that was in the process of removing a hospital life-support system from their loved one.
She had been in a serious accident the day before, and while her body was strong and healthy, the trauma to her brain was severe and ended that organ’s ability to manage the complex system that had been keeping her human body alive and functioning. The family was waiting for a neurologist to come and confirm that their loved one’s brain had in fact died, and that life-support procedures should probably now be stopped. We had a prayer of closure around the bedside of this woman, and I headed back to church to make sure I would be able to complete final preparations needed to for lead morning worship.
It had been an emotional stretch of time, since first seeing a text late on the previous Saturday evening announcing the accident and circumstances. So, when I got back to church, I read through my sermon for the morning, which I had not had a chance to review since Friday morning. When I got to the final page, I read the phrase around which I had built the sermon … “Choose Life” … from the First Lesson from Deuteronomy 30:19. And my head and heart just stopped still for a couple of minutes. The tragic irony of the moment wanted to swallow me up, and I felt my eyes starting to mist over. I am often a bit of a cry-baby when I find myself caught up in the trauma of people’s lives. But then, someone stopped into my office for a question, and I was forced to re-orient myself to the present moment.
The time for church arrived, and we did what we do as the people of God. We shared the concerns of the community during the announcements, including this tragedy and other prayer needs that were of a more penultimate nature. We sang … we listened … we prayed … we engaged a sermon … we received communion … we professed our belief in “the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sin, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting.” I would be lying were I to try to tell you that our familiar refrain from the third article of the Apostles’ Creed made everything better. It didn’t. I am a person of faith, but I am an imperfect believer at best. But it will make things better in time. That’s how God works. Not so much through the miracles that our short-sighted faith-eyes desire, but in the long-term truths which shape … and form us … and redeem us … and give us hope for tomorrow. Rest in God’s peace and glory, Chris.