The muses of a Christian traveler.
Steve, Steve, Steve…always asking the easy questions, eh? :) I guess in situations of death, I see your primary responsibility as trying to make people feel better and lessen the anguish of losing a loved one--what that looks like will vary from person to person and family to family. It might be good to somehwat ask the family what they are seeking? Perhaps ask them, “What would you like me to do first?” and they’ll guide you to their needs at that time. You’ll perhaps be able to pick up clues as to their immediate needs. If they want you to pray the loved one into heaven, pray away. If they want a shoulder to cry on, fork it over. If they want some “instruction” about heaven/hell/life/death, do whatever they seem to need. Death just makes people into different animals than they would be in church when thinking clearly—-they start requiring things they would never ask for when in their right minds. Does that make sense?
Thank Christine, I agree --- In death my job is to make people feel better --- but doesn't the church have a purpose prior to death? For too many people, the only time they think or care about God is at a crisis --- when that is true, the church has failed miserably.When things are good, most of us don't think we need God. But when things are bad, or we are lonely or, whatever, then we want to make sure we have God on our side.My understanding of Christanity has nothing to do with the afterlife. It is all about how we live in community today. If that premise is true, then what?
Yes, I see your point. But I’m not sure it’s necessarily a bad thing that the only time people “need God” is when they, in fact, really need her ;), IF they live a kind life. Last year I learned that that “God is goodness.” When we live our lives in a way that respects the environment we are “being” Godlike. (My parents had 5 kids and we lived just fine without a huge SUV or Minivan, and pulling a weed out is much better for the environment and our waistlines than using a water-polluting herbicide.) When we share what we have with those who don’t have it, we are being Godlike (don’t ignore the drug addicts, instead demand a nationwide school funding system that is based on equality instead of biased property values; children in poor schools from poor neighborhoods have much more limited choices than their rich counterparts who learn and are given better choices in privileged schools). When we accept people no matter what their skin color is, no matter how they worship (or not), and even no matter if they’re particularly nice as people, we are being Godlike. So, when I pet the stray cat in my alley instead of shooing it away, or when I buy organic foods because I don’t want to contribute to some poor kid I don’t even know getting leukemia, I really am thinking of God, even if it doesn’t manifest itself in my immediate brain activity as such. But doing such things in life makes me feel really, really good, and I imagine that this feeling is a piece of God, in a way, even if it doesn’t register directly. When I’m feeling depressed or am in distress I do actively think of God, but I think it’s ok because of how I try to live my life. I don’t think it’s about when we think we need God, it’s about what we’re doing for each other and the environment when we aren’t actively thinking of God. There’s nothing wrong with thinking of God only when we “need” it, as long as we live lives that make us worthy of assistance when we do.
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