On Sunday our nation lost a great athlete and philanthropist following the tragic death of Kobe Bryant. People deal with loss, all kinds of loss, every day. When that loss is death and the person is well known, it brings that loss into a greater sense of awareness, because we have a connection with the person, even if it is through mass media. How many times have you heard of someone going through some terrible misfortune or loss and you have said to yourself, “There but by the grace of God, go I”?
So much of ministry is about helping people deal with loss and watching them move forward with the help of their faith and the support of their family and friends. But when it is personal, when we have experienced the same loss they are NOW experiencing, our feelings whatever they are, are deeper and it is a little more personal.
As a pastor, I have spent years going to the hospital to have a prayer before someone’s surgery and each time I was there praying in the hospital, I was well aware that I had never had to spend the night in the hospital or have surgery myself. Sure I had had “procedures,” but nothing serious, nothing that I worried about or even felt the need to have someone come say a prayer over me. Now that I have had surgery, I understand those feelings much better.
So, as we begin a new year, I am asking you to pay attention to those in our congregation and community that might experience a loss that you have gone through. Think and pray about ways you might offer comfort or be a resource for healing. The loss doesn’t have to be a death, serious illness or something tragic. But we all know that things we once thought were no big deal, BECOME big deals when they happen to us. Years ago I had the good fortune to become a Stephen Minister. This is a ministry of LISTENING. Stephen Ministers don’t give advice, they are there to listen and walk with their caregivers.
Friends, you are such a caring congregation, you don’t need a special class or designation to LISTEN or to be there as one who has experienced in the past what someone is going through now. YOU can be the life raft that keeps someone else from drowning.
Please, take time each week to read the prayer list in the bulletin, to pay attention to e-mails that come from PPC prayers, and to reach out when someone experiences a loss you are all too familiar with.
Grace and peace,