As I've leaned on the love of friends and colleagues during this past week, I have been told (mostly by people that do not share my theological perspective) that this is what the work of Christ is all about. Jesus calls us into the hard places to be in ministry with those that are hurting. Having spent this summer working as a hospital chaplain, it is less than appealing to imagine the ministry as an overcrowded, understaffed, chaotic Emergency Room. I can barely enter the Emergency Room as it is. On my rounds, I tend to do the "fly-by" approach to the Emergency Room where I don't make eye contact with anyone for too long and offer a weak smile when I can bare it. Friends, this is not what ministry is all about.
ER might have had a really good run on TV with several seasons. But, I could never watch it. It goes back to my fear of hospitals. But, I also don't want to do ministry where everything is operating on this intensely chaotic plane. Of course, God's children need blessing and ritual in the hard spots. There are times to bury the dead and deal with tragedy. But, that's not what church is. There must be rebirth. There must be something to rebuild, renew and restore.
The big question seems to be: how do we look toward this renewal? How do we take these first steps? Is it possible to rebuild in the face of tragedy? When bad news strikes, how do we move on? Or maybe the real question is, when is it too broken to heal? When is there a DNR in our church? And when are we brave enough to accept that not even Jesus would be stupid enough to go there...
I'm not sure how to answer this call. I'm not sure that this is the work that Jesus is calling me into. I'm not sure that I should go into a place that could be plagued by denial as much as they could be infuriated and outraged with lack of trust. I'm not certain what to make of the entire situation. But, I'm most uncertain about how I should respond. I know that I need to make eye contact. I need to offer more than a smile. But how?