The following article will appear in my monthly Abbotsford Times column. Enjoy.
Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I have been laid up at home with my leg in the air while Facebooking, watching movies, and drifting in and out of sleep like Homer Simpson at church. This lazy sounding existence is not something I have chosen for myself, rather, it was imposed on me by a nasty rockclimbing fall that’s going to leave a mean scar and make for a great war story. And, as much as I would like The Times to run a photo of the open wound on my ankle, most of the readership of this little column would probably pass out or tap out before reading the rest of the piece. Please feel free to direct thank-you letters to the editor.
Another part of my routine has been a twice daily trip the Abbotsford hospital for IV therapy to treat the wounds’ ensuing infection. There are also multiple visits to my family doctor and the occasional hobble into Emergency. These daily little trips to the hospital and away from the gloom of my bedroom have begun to be what I look forward to and even enjoy. In fact, if it wasn’t for all the pain, infection, injury, and line-ups, hospitals would be a desirable place to go. There is a Starbucks, a comfortable atrium, friendly staff who care and seem to know a lot about you, and a reasonable amount of parking! Why don’t people just simply hangout at the hospital? It’s a great place.
Jesus, in one of his defensives against critics who called him a glutton and drunk for eating with sinners, simply stated, “It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Now imagine for a moment if hospitals didn’t serve the sick and needy of Abbotsford, but rather the healthy. What would they look and feel like? I imagine that our Westcoast doctors’ would trade in their drab green scrubs in favour of khaki’s, socks, and sandals. Nurses’ would drink non-fat no-whip triple-shot mocha’s before, during, and after everything. Technicians would keep ogling new technology and custodians would gather empty coffee cups while the volunteers ogle the five dollar drinks. That, and there would be a sign out front that reads, “Taking care of each other, no room for the sick.”
Hospitals were imagined, designed, built, and are administrated for the purposes of bringing hope, health, and recovery to the broken, sick, and hurting of our communities. In so many ways, the Church was too, and it is both saddening and sickening when I see churches with signs out front that read, “Taking care of each other, no room for the sick.”
As Christians, we must take seriously Jesus’ cause and mission of bringing hope to the hopeless, refuge to the refugee, health to the sick, and comfort to the dying. The followers of Jesus, whom he called the Church, have the mandate of loving the lonely, bringing joy to the broken-hearted, and offering peace to the troubled. Can you imagine a church designed, built, and administrated for these purposes? Imagine what our community would look and feel like if the followers of Jesus devoted its energies to these purposes? Imagine if the sign out front read, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I can, others have, can you?