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.