me slides

Monday, 19 May 2014

My story of hope

Continuing my series leading up to GA 221... this time talking about hope. 
My most profound encounter with hope was after a car accident in 2003. Two beloved members of the congregation I was serving as pastor were killed, and I was seriously injured. From the moment I gained consciousness while pinned inside the car, I heard the voice of a woman who turned out to be a chaplain speaking to me through the broken back window, asking me if she could call my husband for me. An EMT  spoke kind words to me while he and others lifted me gently onto a gurney. I felt enfolded with care when my whole being could have been filled with fear.

The reality of the deaths of two vibrant women brought our community to its knees in grief. Yet the wounded body of Christ –the church– embodied a resurrection hope I had never experienced. The church did this as truly one body, bone and muscle and skin inextricably linked. Church members, staff and presbytery leaders planned two funerals, others cooked for my family and visited me in the hospital. Neighbors readied our home for my return in a wheelchair.

Some say hope “floats,” but I would say it flows and seeps and saturates. Hope defined the tear-filled testimony of a church member and childhood friend of one of the deceased women offered at the sentencing of the man who had caused the accident. It was a testimony that revealed pain but did not
demand revenge. Hope flowed into the neighborhood around the church into the home of a woman who wrote the church a letter surprised and grateful for the forgiveness that the congregation had demonstrated. Hope entered the journey of the mother of one of the women who had never entered the church before her daughter’s death and is now a deacon.

Across town, the man whose recklessness had caused the death of two women, was enfolded into another congregation, and was prayed over by the men in his church, who pledged to guide and mentor him as he began to grasp what this second chance might mean for him.
In this season of my life, I encountered the truth of our hope in Christ. I saw, and through my brothers and sisters in Christ, experienced a living message of hope: that nothing, absolutely nothing, can have the power to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is one story. There are countless others. I will gladly share them with you. 


Karen Jensen said...

We love you as you loved us. Thank you.

Carolyn Casey said...

Although I cannot yet fathom this world without you in it, I am grateful to you and to God for the time you were in my life. This world has been a better place because of you.