Reflections on Pastoral Visitations: Life and Death in Houston, TX.

WOw. what a day.

It began miraculously with two births in our congregation – two healthy beautiful girls, both 7 pounds 11 ounces – exactly the same – to two sets of wonderful parents I’ve gotten to know and love in such a short time. Although they weren’t scheduled this way, it just so happened that the babies came on the same day! (you guys planned that didn’t you ;)

Norah Maranatha Kwon

Phoebe Sorae Cho

So it was miraculous and wonderful to celebrate with these parents (Cho’s I’m gonna get with you soon as you come back from Galveston!). I loved praying a blessing over these parents and children, and especially covenanting together on behalf of our church, to raise these children together. Harvesters – these are also YOUR children. Care for them as your own.

And then the same day took a sadder turn as a parishioner called urgently several times to tell me his mom passed from lung cancer. When I finally got to my phone, I headed over to the residence quick as I could and immediately went into support officer mode. It was eery, going from celebrating life, to mourning death – all in one day. But as I did what I usually do on such calls – watch and remain – I encountered Jesus in my parishioners. This just happens all the time. As they reflected on the miracle of life, cried tears of joy and tears of pain, I saw Christ himself deeply moved, both Lord and victim of the cycle of life, death… and birth. Here are some reflections from past visitations that still hold true each time I go “on a call”

Two thoughts in my mind as I go on a call, and I’ll quit for tonight. First are the words of Christ to his disciples in Gethsemene: Watch and Remain. We’re not called to take Christ down from the cross, nor are we called to go in his stead. We’re just called to “watch and remain” without falling asleep. Watch for what? Watch for God. Watch for the incarnate Sufferer in these people.

And then the words “He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” I get this from Eugene Peterson. These are profound words about the resurrection – in the midst of death. He is there, @ the call ahead of me, or the police, or the EMS, or any first responders. Christ IS the first responder. And he has already gone ahead of me to the call and lo – he is there!

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...
Looking for Christ in the sufferer... and the celebrant

Published by Wayne Park

Asian-American clergyman thinking about issues of faith, place, race and culture-making in the vast city of Houston, TX

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