On the death of a ministry (and the birth of another)

Note to you dear reader: This piece was originally written in  September of 2007, but I did not post it then, for fear of offending, and more importantly, the rawness of my own emotion and sadness... Since then, time has passed, wounds have healed, and relationships have been irreparably changed. It is time to post it...

I attended a funeral this past Saturday.
Funny thing though, the corpse didn’t know it was dead, at least not all of it.
The last thing to die was its mouth, and it kept saying things like:
“It’s not over, this is just a transition”. &  “This is a happy occasion”
But it was not so. It is dead, and by the time of the funeral, it was rotting.

People wept. Some came up to give tribute to the dead thing. Some testified as to how during its life the dead thing was such a blessing. One in particular moved me to tears as she described, weeping, the great change in her life. Even then 'the mouth' tried to silence her. The excuse given was that ‘we didn’t come here to cry’. Some who were unaware that they had arrived for the funeral sat stunned. Others lamented a thing dead too soon. Some were absolutely oblivious because they believed 'the mouth'…. Even as it was decomposing, coming apart, even though the moving trucks will come today to take its belongings away… All the while 'the mouth' kept saying ‘I’m not dead!’ ‘I’ll be back!’

It was "Le Théâtre de l'Absurde"

As I reflect today, I recall the scene in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ where the wizard demands that they ’pay no attention to the man behind the curtain’ futilely demanding that they suspend their belief.

Not once in the course of the service did 'the mouth' acknowledge any of the people who had so faithfully served all this time. Neither would 'the brain'. I am not clear on whether this was due to denial (we’re not dead, so no need) or arrogance (it was your pleasure to serve me, so YOU should thank ME) or some twisted abrogation of the two. Clearly one of the causes of death was a hyper-extended sense of entitlement, so I would not be surprised if the arrogance piece played a large part. 'The mouth' did take a moment to applaud the faithful pianist for her ‘sensitivity to the spirit’. The cynic in me knows that thought the statement is 100% true, and the musician is a joy to Worship with; it was only proffered after someone came up to say that though she thanked the brain and mouth for the time spent, it was me who actually fed her spirit. (I do not think it sat well with the mouth at all).

Thankfully, I was not asked to speak, (The week before, the mouth in one of its trademark ‘arbitrary moments’ instructed the members of the Worship Team that we were to prepare a solo or speak for 3 minutes). I am still not sure what I would have said. The only time that I made any kind of statement was at the end, when I led the mourners through a medley of songs that had been birthed during the last 4 years.

It was poignant and powerful, and for many a reminder of what had been so very special about our time together. It was at that point that my tears flowed again. As I recalled how each song came at a pivotal time, and what happened in my life as a result, I was ‘Overwhelmed’. As the funeral ended, I walked to the front of the room and knelt down, to thank God for the time, for the place, and to mourn its death. I told 'the brain' later that despite their declarations, I could not stand in agreement that this was a ‘happy occasion’ or a ‘good day’

I write while the memory is still fresh, the hurt is still raw. I grieve the dead thing. But even as I grieve, I know that some of my grief is selfish, in that I had expectations for the dead thing, hopes that the dead thing would have grown up and lived long. This of course was denial on my part, because the Lord had told me a year ago that the thing had a terminal illness, and unless it allowed the Spirit of the Lord to operate, it would surely die. I told 'the brain' this, but it would not hear (how could it without ears?) Even as the parts began to fall off, the thing would not admit that it was sick. Even when the last board member quit and said ‘We need to repent and start over’, it would not hear. So now it is dead.

Where does that leave me?

As I prepared to leave, 'the brain' said a single word to me. A name. ‘Joshua’.

I replied that I had been doing ok thus far, and I would not allow the brain to ‘mess me up’. I said this because I knew that the name was a confirmation of something that the Lord had told me months ago; something that I had not shared with the brain. It was this: ‘In order for Joshua to lead, Moses had to die.’ It was a powerful moment, a resonant moment for me.

The chapter is closed, the page turned. A new page is before me.

Lord, help me to see clearly and to understand what you wrote there…

(Note: Two months later, The Repairer's Fellowship was born)


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