The Quixotic Pastor

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

4:00 am musings

Woke up about 3:45 to go to the bathroom and now I can't get back to sleep ... so here I am.

Several revgalblogpals have been lifting me and especially my one congregation up in prayer and I do SOOOO appreciate that. I think the healing service I did last Sunday [for the church who had a congregant murdered] accomplished some of what I wanted it to accomplish. I wanted to assure people that God desires righteousness and justice to happen with this event just as much as She does in all things, and that She would see to it that it was done. I let Scripture "do the talking" just as much as I could, so that, for instance, I utilized Psalm 27 for the call to worship/commission and blessing ["The Lord is my light and my salvation ..."] and the texts for the sermon were from Lamentations, 2 Corinthians and the Beatitudes.

I wanted to lay the groundwork for the multitude of conversations I know I will be having with different folks as things [hopefully!] progress in the criminal case. I also addressed the practical issue of how grieving a sudden death resulting from a crime is different from grieving a death due to natural causes and that the process is extended when crime is involved. I warned us that the multitude of questions won't probably be answered until/unless there's a trial, if even then.

The only thing I have not done that I want to do is contact our Regional Elder [in our denomination, she's kind of like a Bishop] and check in with her. I suspect other MCC pastors have had this experience during their ministries and I want to know how they coped.

Of course, if any of you revgalblogpals have the experience of ministering to a grieving family/congregation when homicide has been involved---'specially some of you chaplains out there-- I certainly would appreciate your advice!

One thing that bugs me about this is that some people are forgetting the humanity of the man [he was a congregant too] who did it. I wonder if people are even remembering that as Christians we pray for our enemies and those that persecute us. So I am praying for the man who probably did it that he will come to his senses, confess his sin, turn himself in, take responsibility for his crime and do the time. At the same time, when I am at the church building alone [yes, the doors are locked], I find myself looking over my shoulder, wondering if he is still in town. Rationally, I'm pretty sure he got the hell out of Dodge and went some place less "hot" for him ... but that's one of those as yet unanswered questions I mentioned above.

I keep thinking about various scenes from the movie "Dead Man Walking". One of the things that strikes me about Sr. Helen Prejean's death row ministry is that she is interested in "restoring humanity" --not, perhaps, the best phrase but at 5 am I'll keep it. She strives to get criminals to see the humanity of their victims, to come to grips with how they lose their own humanity when they dehumanize others. She strives to get the system to remember the humanity of the inmates. She strives to assist victim families themselves not to become dehumanized by an often dehumanizing process. For her, dehumanizing humanity is a grave offense before God, but not one beyond the reach of God's grace ... that there is redemption for even a murderer, the possibility of making a monster into a man or woman again.

I can hear my DH snoring ... think I'll go join her in our nice warm bed. Maybe I'll sleep late .... if the phone will let me. Thankfully, this Sunday is our Blessing of the Animals service, so there's not going to be a sermon, just dogs. and cats. wonder what else?????



  • At 6:59 PM , Blogger Marie said...

    WOW! 3:45. You've got me beat for insomnia. I am indeed holding you and yours in prayer and there are indeed those among the RGBP who've been through this. I'm so glad that you're thinking about the "praying for our enemies" piece of all this. It's always the hardes thing we are called to do. I'm doing a lot of thinking about this as I prepare to preach a sermon on the death penalty in October. Tough stuff. Prayers ascending.

  • At 7:41 AM , Blogger Reverend Dona Quixote said...

    Thank you Marie.

    Fortunately, I don't generally have too many of these insomniac episodes ... just occasionally.

    Glad to hear you're addressing the subject of the death penalty. My state of residence is not a death penalty state, but my home state of Texas is.

    Usually I struggle with praying for my enemies more around issues of politics. In what way is it significant that it is easier for me to pray for a suspected murderer than ...say... the leadership of the American Family Association? Of course, I had a personal relationship with the suspect, whereas I don't often sit down at a social table with someone like Jim Dobson. Perhaps that's the key ... my murder suspect is human to me, but Jim Dobson remains a "talking head" because we've had no human interaction.

  • At 10:47 AM , Blogger LutheranChik said...

    It's not quite in the same category, but in my congregation several years ago one of the most known/loved members of our congregation was run over by a drunk driver as he was jogging one morning. His family was devastated, and there was a lot of existential pondering and rage in the congregation...the driver was an habitual offender who didn't demonstrate any remorse for what he'd done, and in fact had, along with his family, been rude and dismissive to the victim's spouse during courtroom proceedings. It's indeed difficult to remember the enemy in the midst of rallying around the victims' family and friends.

  • At 7:44 PM , Blogger Reverend Dona Quixote said...

    Actually, LC, I think this is not such a different category after all. The criminal in my case killed with his bare hands --the criminal in your case killed with a motor vehicle. We strongly suspect that addiction is a part of the puzzle with our case too --the suspect had gotten back on crack again. Addictions do eat away at a person's humanity, and they kill off those places in us where compassion and remorse dwells ...


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