Thursday, August 09, 2007


I got a phone call last night while I was picking up Haley from "theater camp." The call was from Community hospital asking if I could come in and see a patient who was nearing death, because the family wanted a pastor to come in and pray with them.

Not a very unusually request, however, the family was not truly connected to Ridge Church. Once I arrived, the serendipity of it was, that we did have a connection. I had presided over the wedding of this woman's grand-daughter in July of 2005. As best I can tell, the hospital did not know that and I just happened to be the person they called.

But that is not what I want to write about.

What struck me --- as I ponder the challenge I gave to you and others on Monday is: "What is the roll of the church." I was called in so that I could help ease the transition, as the woman moves from this life to the next. AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THAT! And if one were operating under the paradigm that the purpose of Christianity is to enable one to have "eternal life", that task was of utmost importance.

But I don't understand that to be the purpose of being a Christian. It may be a result, or as I like to say --- "The icing on the cake," but for me, it is the cake that is of utmost importance. And the cake is relationship with God through an earthly family, that we often call the church.

So when I find myself in situations like I was in, what is my primary responsibility? To "pray" the person to heaven, or to help the family to see the need for a relationship with God through the love of Jesus? And if, I have the perceived power to pray this person into heaven; which unfortunately is the paradigm that many operate under as to the function of the church --- why would they care or desire that relationship with God through that very broken and dysfunctional body that we call the church?

Sorry for my ramblings --- I didn't get a lot of sleep last night.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.


Emanicipated? said...

I feel compelled to comment because I attended a funeral on Saturday and the question was asked upon conclusion whether the pastor had lost focus on the grieving family as he used the opportunity, which is not uncommon, to win souls for the Lord through reminders that this can happen to you and no matter how much you run, you too will end up at this point so are you prepared. This I think is at the crux of the matter.....the Church I think represents that rock so in times of doubt a Christian will always call upon the church to be the lighthouse through the process of transition. I also think that it helps both the family and the person to have the pastor whisper a few words...not to as you put it "pray you into heaven" but it gives one solace in a time of need. Yes I know you will say that the Lord should be your solace but how many of us have that strength of faith. Not sure if I made any sense...and I am writing from the perspective of a sinner so I could be wrong...but that's my two cents.

Steve Conger said...

I agree that is one function of the church. But shouldn't the church do more than just whisper a few words during a crisis? Shouldn't the church serve some function every day in our lives? Or is the church just the lighthouse for that transition?

Maybe the bigger question emanicipated is what is the purpose then of the church for you beyond being this rock.

Sorry about your comment not getting published ASAP, I had some problems when I was flooded with comments from a particular group, and had to add that feature. I have turned it off again. So comments will publish freely.