So, it is Neal’s 90th birthday and he is a picture of health! He is one of the nicest and kindest people at our church and has always been an encouragement to me. He had a multitude of his family with him in service, today. They all love their dad and their grandpa!
Pastor Kerry preached this morning about the stress between visiting the gravely ill and hearing from their family members that they were going to recover…while at the same time the doctors telling him that their loved one was, clinically dead. His story was one of the most moving that I have heard in some time. He was caught in the middle as the chaplain for the hospital that the young woman, who had been in a devastating automobile accident, was having her body temperature, slowly, warmed until she reached the number that she could be declared, deceased.
Kerry went on to speak of the tension of believing in miracles and the physical reality of accepting what the medical experts tell us. He spoke of how the father of the young woman insisted that God was going to bring his daughter back. While each time he heard from the doctors the scientific evidence was that she was brain dead and all hope was lost for a physical recovery.
The young woman died. Yet, the dynamics of the faith system of the family was real and compelling! We read in the scriptures that Jesus healed many of the people that he encountered. He raised Lazarus from the dead.
‘And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. And his disciples asked him, saying Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents but the works of God should be made manifest in him. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam. He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. John 9:1-7 KJV
I have witnessed many people die of their maladies. People of faith and years of christian life and works. I also have been present in the miraculous healing of two individuals over my 50 year christian walk.
The first experience was, Pat, who was our church pianist, during the 1970s. Pat is one of the sweetest people that you will ever meet. She was married to my cousin and her children are my second cousins. Pat had cancer in her face and she had been told by her physicians that there was no hope for her other than disfiguring surgery, immediately. She and her husband, David, were devastated. One church service we prayed, believing that the God of the Bible had the power to heal. At one point, during the lengthy prayer, I uttered that I had seen the hand of God touch her face. When she retuned to her doctor…she was cancer free….…
I had a pastor, many years ago, that I loved and respected. He was stricken with liver disease and when Dean and I want to visit him in the hospital…he had the appearance of a Skelton with the skin stretched over it. I have never seen someone so close to death…that was not dead! John told us that he had made peace with the fact that he was dying, until he had noticed a plant on his hospital windowsill that was close to death. John said that God had spoken him and told him that all living things struggle to remain alive and that he wanted to do the same! So, Dean and I prayed for John’s healing…and his health condition began to improve…quickly ! John began to gain weight and his appetite retuned to him…and her lived until he could obtain a liver transplant.
I am not a person who looks for signs and wonders. I am not given to emotionalism or grandiose demonstrations or supernatural occurrences. Instead, I have described my 50 year christian walk as a one day at a time event that is neither marked by fireworks or desperation.
But, I have witnessed two healings…two miracles…and I know what I saw!
And, so, Jonathon and I were sitting in the church fellowship hall waiting for Neal’s 90th Birthday Party Revelers to disperse so we could lock the church doors…since I was elder of the week. In came Patch. He looked around as if he was comprehending his, new, surroundings. I noticed that he made his way to the coffee urn and poured himself a cup of java. When asked by, Marta, twice if he wanted some cake…he demurred. Patch was looking for a warm cup of Joe and a friend or friends to talk with.
It, soon appeared that Patch was either homeless or down on his luck. He spoke of heaven and hell and being abused and seeing many celebrities in Carbondale…including Larry David and Kevin Hart. He asked for some financial assistance and when I gave him a little…his demeanor took an upbeat measure.
Patch had, obviously, been around and not received the good graces of compassionate people. He spoke, ninety miles an hour, but was touched by someone who would take the time to listen to him and help him…a little.
Helping the homeless or the needy or the destitute is not written in a Fairy Tale Book. I t is gritty and, at times, full of curse words and visions of a psychotic episode. Helping those who have been forgotten by our society is tedious, and patience, and the willingness to leave your comfort zone.
Patch told Jonathon and I that he might return next Sunday. He remarked that we already had the coffee prepared and that was awesome! He thanked me for my loan to him. He noted that we were Presbyterian…and that was cool!