Prayers and Tears and Beer
We celebrated Easter by holding a memorial service under the bridge today.
Usually, we just bring food and hang out for an hour or so. We make contact, listen, hug, but we don’t preach or pray. Not that the subject of God doesn’t come up… we get asked whether we’re Christian pretty often, and our friends love to tell us what they think about God. But we’ve tried hard not to come in with an agenda.
Today we showed up for a memorial service for R. He took his own life with heroin this week, and one of our friends said there’d be a service today at 1. We arrived right on time (like good middle class folk, I suppose) but weren’t too surprised to find no service happening. People were hanging out, so we did, too.
N. took us aside, because he wanted to talk. He asked us to pray with him, and told us stories about his childhood in an orphanage. He treated us to his beautiful poetry about his heart-wrenching love for God—poetry that would probably earn him a diagnosis of Schizophrenia, in other circumstances.
After we left N., we went over to talk to a few other folks before leaving. After chatting a while, L. told me that he’d come for a memorial service for R., but apparently it wasn’t happening. I checked with C. about it, and she said “Nobody showed up.”
“We showed up,” I told her. “L. showed up.” She shrugged. It became clear to me that nobody knew how to make it happen, so…
Did you ever learn a lesson, and discover you had to learn it over and over again before it “took”? The lesson this time was that you don’t need some authority or a peace of paper to love people. I imagine myself inadequate to the task of ministry. Who am I to think that I can do anything? And it might be true… I’m not good enough; I don’t know what I’m doing.
The thing is, there’s not a lot of competition in this field (or this park). It’s not like some brilliant, compassionate pastor is vying for the job. Today just brought that home for me (again). These folks needed a minister, so I became a minister. Me—flawed and inadequate as I am.
We stood in a circle and held hands, talked about grace, said a prayer. Folks passed around a beer in R’s honor. (They skipped me and Tracy. What’s up with that?) It was one of the most amazing “church” services I’ve ever witnessed—barriers broken, real heart-connections forged.
Allelujah! We are so blessed.
Posted by Angela under stories
Monday, April 13, 2009