I received an email today from the church council of a church in another state, writing to thank members of Calvary for caring for one of their members by visiting her brother in the hospital here in DC.
The situation was very difficult, for sure. This man was facing a marathon medical challenge at a hospital far away from any family. A situation that normally would be an overwhelmingly lonely and fear-filled one became much more intensely so. So, in the best sense of human community, the pastors of that far away church made some telephone calls to folks in their network of denominational identity. One of those phone calls was to Calvary.
When I received that first telephone call, I had never met the individual in the hospital. But I did believe these two things with every ounce of who I am: we are people who need each other . . . we need to depend on one another and we need to support one another. And, the Body of Christ is a powerful network that connects us and makes us family, even from far away.
In other words, we are bound by the mandate of our faith to care for one another, and we belong to each other—we’re brothers and sisters—because we share a common faith.
Believing all of this, I passed the information about this situation along to some colleagues in town, to our staff, and to a few members whom I thought might be interested in getting to know this man. What resulted was a regular pattern of visiting, friendships formed, special moments shared, the profound experience of being the presence of Christ for each other and pulling tighter that mystical bond of faith and love that connects us as followers of Jesus Christ.
After over four months away from home in a hospital here dealing with incredibly serious medical issues, this man
died. He fought with every ounce of who he was and, in the end, he was the one who decided it was time to go to God. But what he gave all of us in the meantime was the opportunity to witness his courage and to experience again the profound power of membership in the body of Christ.
That’s why I was a little surprised to get that email thanking us this morning. To be sure, there were many of us who made the time to visit. But in the end, it was we who had the holy honor of experiencing first-hand the presence of Christ right next to that hospital bed.
And for that, I think it is we who should be writing thank you notes.