Incarnational Community

Still sitting in my hospital room, my head hurts, but my heart is strong.  Sure, my echocardiogram says my heart wall muscle and valves look good, but I mean that part of the person that breaks at loss and swells in good times.  My heart is strong...not because of me, but because it has been strengthened by the community around me.

Call me morbid, but there are moments that I think about my funeral and wonder who would show.  Have I made an impact on my world?  Have I made any difference because I am here?  It isn't so easy to recruit mourners.  It isn't like the wedding world where if I invite you, you then invite me.  That is a little difficult to do from the casket.

I have had lots of time to think and pray and consider my place in my community during the 5 days that I have been lounging in the hospital.  And I know, without a doubt, that God is with me because I have been blessed to know that YOU are with me.

The point of being a follower of Jesus, to me, isn't to get a ticket to heaven, although it is a nice perk.  Before Jesus ascended back to heaven he said,
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."   
Acts 1:8 NIV 
What does it mean to be a witness?  Sure, it can mean passively watching something happen, but nothing about Jesus' life was passive.  Another definition seems much more plausible.
 something serving as evidence or proof : sign
We are evidence & proof, God's witnesses to the world of his transformational power.  With his Spirit living within us, we live an incarnational life.  We bring HIM to them.

And this week, my friends and my family have brought God's presence close.  From listening on the phone 3 states away while I pack and wheeze breathlessly, to visiting with presents, laughter, and hugs, to texting during a nighttime sob session, to praying over me, for me, with me.  God cares for me through you.  God reminds me that I am not alone because you are with me.  God comforts me through the presence of you. 

I am not saying that God himself doesn't show up.  But if God lives in me, and he lives in you, well, somehow I needn't expect some wild miracle because it is just a daily and expected experience that God can show up, when we do.

Maybe that is why Jesus so strongly urges caring for those in need.  We are to bring God to them just as Jesus came to us.  We are to live the incarnational life because in many ways, we ARE an incarnation of God's love and care for each other.

Being on this side of the bed, I cannot say I felt very useful, but I still wanted to listen and watch for ways that I could participate, be incarnational.  You may think it silly, but knowing how difficult nursing can be on a floor with bed alarms going off constantly and elderly trying to fall out of bed, I tried to care for my staff by keeping them smiling.  My room mate has a heart whose rhythm is off (yes, she is white), and while we talked last night, she was reassured that she had a cardiac nurse for a room mate who could tell her in layman's terms what was going on and would watch out for her (and says she has been blessed by the joyful visitors that have come to hang out with me).  I visited other patients whose bodies are more worn out than mine.  I gave directions with a smile to visitors, suspicious of taking directions from someone wearing hospital bracelets.  Not my usual idea of incarnational, but we work with what we have right?  I could only give what I had. 

I still don't know if my funeral will be a big hit.  Frankly, it doesn't matter.  You may not show up then, but you sure showed up this week!  And somehow showing up when I am alive seems a lot more loving...


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