At about 1 am on Sunday morning, my cell phone rang. Half panicking and half confused, I answered it and received news that my aunt and uncle had died in a motorcycle wreck on Saturday afternoon. There isn’t much sleeping after a phone call like that, so I sat in my recliner with ESPN making noise in the background as I thought and prayed and wondered. It was a long five hours as I prepared myself to drive over to my parents to let my mother know that her sister and brother-in-law were dead.
As the hours have crept by since 1 am on Sunday, I’ve been blessed by the love and care of my family, friends, and an amazing church family here in Foley. I’ve read the news articles, and was even interviewed for one, and I hope I get to tell their neighbors who survived the wreck that they needn’t feel the guilt that they are so obviously carrying. As the details continue to emerge: the SUV that crossed the center line, the driver who survived; I’m finding the Gospel lesson for Sunday staring me square in the eyes.
There is a part of me, a deep down ugly part, that wants to look with contempt upon the driver of that SUV. It has been hard to pray for him: for his healing, for his grief as his wife was also killed in the wreck, and for whatever other emotions he might be going through given the scale of this life changing event. I’ve wanted to jump to conclusions: don’t text and drive, don’t drink and drive, don’t whatever and drive. I’ve wanted it to be less of an accident and more of an event deserving of blame, but I know, apart from that deep down ugly part of me, that this is not how I am called to live as a disciple of Jesus.
Instead, I’m called to love this man. I’m called to care for him in the midst of his unimaginable hardship. I’m called to deal with my own issues that make me want to blame him, and seek the Kingdom of God. In short, I’m called to be faithful even in the midst of difficult times. I’m called to remember my redeemer who stands beside me and my family, beside Colleen and Doug’s families, and yes, beside Mr. Smith and his family as we all work through our shock and grief. I’m called to rely on God even when I want to rely on my strength, my might, and my right to be pissed off.
I’m trying to pray the Collect this week, and dear reader, I hope you will pray with me too.
Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
And a prayer for a sudden death:
O God our strength in need, our help in trouble: stand with us in our distress, support us in our shock, bless us in our questioning, and do not leave us comfortless, but raise us up with Jesus Christ. Amen (EOW2, p. 97)