For the Love of Christ urges us on…
Discerning the things we are called on to do as the church rather than the things we should…
A sublte difference and line I know, but less and less so in these days and certainly the truth of Jesus ministry…who drives Jesus…the living God or the institution built up around his continuing ministry to safe guard…so many flaws in this if we play it to the letter.
It’s love, rather than rule that we be driven, and only Jesus can point the way! Take a deep breath and jump in.
A significant pastoral encounter in these last few weeks saw me attending a person who had requested assisted dying vie the “Maid” program. I responde to the request, curious, self righteously in opposition to the notion, and arrived at the destination of the encounter ready to stand my ground and at least cause a shadow of doubt. As it happened…God was to have the last word. I’m unashamedly compassionate in pastoral encounters and I melt into a bedside manner, and in the moment of encounter and ensuring conversation, the request made complete sense on many level. An aggressive cancer, advanced, required 24 hour oxygen, too weak to stand, and little appetite or even ability to eat or hold down food. The physical presentation.
A deep maturiy, a concern for others, especially the welfare of his family, his loved ones, and a keenness to hear the voice and the direction and prayerfulness of the church. His spiritual maturity.
I melted…Jesus spoke through this, the spirit was present, I was invited once again to muster all the understanding and compassion I knew to be the church in this mans’ and family’s home and critical moment. The moment was no longer mine…the church imperious…, it was God’s in the need of this man who called on us to make real the spirit of truth. It belonged to the man.
With a lump in my throat, I prayed, I held his hand and assured him of God’s love and the grace that seemed so evident in that moment. A week later and I’m back at their home. He is ready. Close friends, medicos and international family via Skype are in the room. There wast the expectant chatter that leads up to something monumental, and then silend. Instructions from the medicos. Instructions from the recipient and then the priest prayed. I always begin my prayers with the workds…loving God, thank you for this day. I don’t remember any other words, but there were some and then teh Lord’s Prayer. Everybody in the room joined in…Amen. Silence. And in the moment I asked him, do you have any last words, anything you want o say to su, to your wife, your son…he spoke of love and gratitude and of faith…silence.
We were in this moment at the foot of the cross. Nothing more to be said. The medicos moved forward and the procedure took place. Silence. He fell asleep…and darkness covered the whole land…he bowed his head and died…and the ones that loved him the most wept, and death was confirmed, and his body lay there, still, serene, no more pain or discomfort.
In a moment, our noise began to fill the air, the room again, gratitude and love refilling the room in a different way, and we rose a toast to the one we had kept watch with and teh ones who administered his very last right and will. I found out later, his decision was finally based on my pastoral response to him. In the surprrise of learning that, I saw once again that unutterable presence of that peace of God who passes all understanding. I was not alone. I am never alone…the psalmist reminds us…whither shall I fly from they presence…whether to the heavens or down to Sheol…you are there with me…(ps139)
My mind has changed. God gave me a mentor…just for a little while to shake me in my boots. Surely that’s wht the gospel is saying to us…to the church…Bless you and me…don’t be concern about ‘should’, but alive in the knowledge of the presence of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. It is God who will lead you in the way of righteousness and truth.
Much love to you.