An Anecdote of Love
Being a pastoral church means kind words, cooking a needed meal, sending a caring card, visiting the hospital and attending funerals. But, to some, pastoral visits and personal contact from caring clergy and lay leaders can mean everything.
Several members of Ascension and I have been involved with Rebecca, a mentally ill woman who first visited Ascension nearly 15 years ago. Our journey with Rebecca has been difficult at best. We have learned how to set boundaries, how to provide for her needs without enabling her, and how to demonstrate “tough love.” We have assisted her with food, social services and housing. We have laughed, cried and been fearful of her future. But Rebecca is a special member of Ascension and over the years she has taught us patience, tenacity, faithfulness and how to love unconditionally.
Most recently, Rebecca’s mother died. This is a tragedy in itself, but compounded by the fact that her mother was the only family member who over the years maintained a relationship with her. Her mother was her lifeline.
Upon the news, a lay leader friend, Deacon Sue Ross and myself visited Rebecca to share the news. There were lots of weeping, regrets and remorse but we offered her prayers and support and promised that she would not be alone and to not be afraid. Ascension was the only “family” that Rebecca had left.
In Scripture, we are promised time after time to fear not:
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27)
Our response as a pastoral parish is critical to all those we are in relationship with--- those in need whether they attend the church or are friend, neighbor or even a stranger we encounter in our neighborhood. We are a church of unconditional love and we bring hope to those who are alone and afraid. We do this in the name of Jesus Christ who promises us an end to all suffering and the hope of everlasting life.