I saw the true church today. Well, not really the church…more of a picture of what I believe the church should be.
I saw the beautiful representation not in a glorious sanctuary, but in the chemotherapy ward of a major hospital. The ward was large. Two huge sections separated by multiple nursing stations. Easy chairs next to IV poles for about eighty people. Around each chair where patients were spending most of the day were smaller seats for loving family members. Everyone had someone. No one was alone. And everyone was family. The attack by that evil nemesis cancer had affected every represented family in one way or another. The attack also united people of every race, both male and female, young and old. People who had never before met talked openly, offered to pray for one another, and listened empathetically. Hugs were common. Encouraging words flowed like warm honey.
Throughout the day the relative peace and calm of the ongoing procedures was interrupted by the loud clanging of a gong. The sound could be heard from one end of the ward to the other but was dwarfed by the cheers and applause that followed. Every patient who completed their last treatment had the right to strike the gong. Every other patient rejoiced. It was a brief moment of celebration in the midst of a nightmare. From our perspective, cancer is always a nightmare. On the other hand, it provided for something special today. I wish the church were more like that chemo ward. I wish people openly loved and cared for one another regardless of differences. I wish we were more inclined to celebrate one another’s victories. I wish we were unified by Christ the way our families were unified by illness. As our day was nearing to a close we began counting down the minutes until machines and drips would be disconnected. I was ready to go. And then I wasn’t. We couldn’t run out. We had to go and share our love one more time with new friends who were now family. We had to exchange numbers and promise support.
We had to pray. Sort of like a church.