The church I love, and so many members and friends love, is going these days through its own "March Madness."
Not at the sidelines of basketball, but in the pews of prayer, carried on through the days and nights of our bearing close upon our hearts the very lives of our minister, and his wife, and daughter.
Our minister's wife is living through the first stages of her cancer diagnosis and chemo treatment, while his daughter and he bear with her, walk with her, uphold her, love her with their wise, brave, and wounded hearts standing bare before the Christian company they so well serve, and so deeply love, pray and uphold, and serve with a love growing deeper and more tender every day.
Heroically, the family has already headed out to a long-planned pilgrimage to Israel with a company of pilgrims committed to traveling with them.
They will see and embark upon the Sea of Galilee, worship at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, walk the stations of the Cross to Calvary, and stuff their own earnest prayers into the crevices of the Temple's Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.
They have done deeply and tenderly what God calls His pastoral families to do - to live out their own lives of growing faith and painful experiences before the congregation they love, and who love them - teaching them, and telling their story as the days pass as they walk the way of the excruciating process of confronting Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, enduring the pain of the very treatment itself, and holding close their own hurt hearts, as they walk with God, the Great Physician, and hold out hands and hearts to the multitude of believers who surround them, and serve them, and comfort, and encourage them, even while they become more and more precious to those in their deepening faith and growing and learning love.
It is, I suppose, a kind of ancillary love and deepening unity and caring that is God's own work of His Holy Spirit, forging a forever bond of faith and oneness as this precious family comes close to the pastoral family who are, inevitably teaching them the ways of God out of their own experience of the pilgrimage through this battle for health, with the accompanying hope of the Gospel, in Christ Jesus, Who is Lord of it all.
It is the experience for which no one asks, yet it comes as the context for the life of congregation and pastoral family, as we all are made ever more surely into a company together, of love, and hope, walking together, and growing mysteriously, into a wisely taught and lovingly lifted true body of Christ.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
|Arthur Rouner Ministries||
ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES