Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Green Shoot

I can't remember the last time I wasn't tired. Part of it is age; nothing works as well as it used to, and the system that performs maintenance on my body while I sleep is going downhill along with my skin, muscle tone, digestion, vision, hearing, short-term memory, and everything else. The idea of living forever doesn't have any appeal to me whatever, and I'd even bypass drinking from the fountain of eternal youth, given the sins of mine.

And, to tell the truth, the promise of heaven doesn't thrill me much, either. Though Jesus says that those who are faithful to him will hear him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your lord," meaning that his happiness will guarantee mine, the Bible doesn't really give us any glimpses of heaven that make me feel like I'd belong there or even want to.

So we're left with looking at life on earth, or some aspects of it, as a foretaste of what God has in store for those who love him. I write this blog because I see much room for improvement in that earthly picture, at least the part involving the church in the US. And I find myself wondering if there really is a Holy Spirit: if God is a thinking, speaking, feeling, acting being, why is the church in the US, with all its Bibles, sermons online, and prayer meetings, on the wrong side of so many issues? Or if the church is right, why won't he tell me what I'm doing wrong so I can repent? Has he given up on me and sent me lies because I don't want to believe the truth?

Well, I think I've seen a green shoot in the desert.

This morning we sent off our contribution to Samaritan Ministries, a Christian health-care co-op we've been a part of for more than a decade. Actually, we sent the money to a fellow "subscriber," someone who made their financial need brought on by medical treatment. They told Samaritan of their need, and Samaritan passed their name on to us so we could send them a predetermined amount of money and pray for them. We do this every month, and the understanding is that if we have medical needs we'd like prayer and help paying for, we can make our needs known. I had a hernia repaired last month, and depending on what I owe after my employment-based insurance pays, I may submit a request.

Samaritan started out when health-care costs were merely unreasonable. Now that government coercion has made health care almost unaffordable,voluntary organizations like Samaritan are more important than ever in enabling us to have somewhere to turn when medical costs overwhelm us.

During the runup to ObamaCare, Senator Christopher Dodd put out a call for those interested in commenting on the subject to contribute to an online forum. Samaritan told us about it, and so I put in my two cents' worth a couple of times. One contributor referred to us "subscribers" as "minions" and huffed that he would never qualify as a member, hence Samaritan was somehow immoral, and if ObamaCare destroyed it, so much the better. I suggested to him that if he wanted to set up a similar organization for atheists Samaritan would be happy to help him get it running. I later asked someone at Samaritan if I'd gone overboard and was assured that I hadn't.

If being part of the church means being part of Samaritan Ministries, a group that helps people every day and would willingly help more, all in the name of Christ, count me in, my doubts be damned.

If that weren't enough of a green shoot, the people we sent money to today are in Mexico. Perhaps they are US citizens down there as missionaries or retirees, but the names are thoroughly Spanish. I'd prefer to believe that they are simply José y María Paquete de Seis (not their real names!), a brother and sister in Christ, who heard about Samaritan and wanted to get in on a good thing.

Kings and kingdoms will all pass away (and so will democracies and republics), but there's something about the name of Jesus.

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