So yesterday, my family ended up in that infamous venue, the Emergency Room.
Before I go any further, let me assure you that everyone is fine.
My daughter was walking across the school parking lot after Cross-Country practice when a driver pulled into a parking spot without looking first. Consequently, her car hit Athena. (It was more of a bump than an actual hit, thank God.)
Surprisingly, we were all in fairly good spirits as we waited. We joked about the shock value of the experience. (“What did you do yesterday?” “I went to practice and then got hit by a car. What did you do?”). We laughed about Athena’s newfound celebrity status. (“My phone is blowing up, and I don’t even know half these kids!”)
And as we sat there waiting, it got me thinking. That waiting room was full of so many different people, from so many different walks of life. An elderly lady who kept having nosebleeds. A bedraggled young boy in a football uniform. A youngish woman, clearly a seasoned ER visitor like me, who joked and commiserated with us about the length of the wait. So many different people, all facing such different problems. It seems that emergencies are one of the only aspects of life that still have the power to bring us all together. Young or old, rich or poor, male or female, we are all vulnerable to emergencies, because they really are kind of the stuff that life, real life, is made of.
There’s an old saying that “life is what happens when you’re making other plans.” Boy, is that true.
It also got me thinking, what if we started thinking of church as a kind of spiritual emergency room?
Most of us grew up believing that church was a place where you get dressed up, put on your best behavior, and never really talk about anything that’s bothering you.
But the truth is, the people who show up in church on any given day are not much different from those folks who were assembled in the emergency room waiting room yesterday.
Most likely, every person we meet is either about to have an emergency, in the throes of a current emergency, or recovering from an emergency.
As Jesus said in Luke 5, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick do.”
Maybe the question we need to be asking those we come into contact with is not, “How are you today?” but, “What’s your emergency?”
And to go along with that…”How can I help?”
I pray that we can all learn to see ourselves as Jesus did, as the people who are called to attend to all of life’s emergencies wherever we may find them.
After all, that’s kind of what life is all about.
In God’s service,