From the archives …
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National Donor Sabbath was an idea organized by Donate Life America in 1997. Every year since then the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday two weeks before Thanksgiving this time gives faith groups and their leaders the opportunity to intentionally focus on organ an tissue donation and the lives being saved. This year’s National Donor Sabbath is this weekend, November 11, 12, and 13. Inspite of persistent rumors to the contrary, there is not a major religion that teaches any theology that would oppose organ donation. For the Jewish faith donation is considered to be a wonderful mitzvah. The Islamic community encourage organ donation. In Christianity, it is seen as agape, the highest and most charitable form of love.
I hope you and y0ur faith group take some time, if not this weekend, then some other to talk about this important issue. Use it as a sermon topic, a special presentation from a organ recipient. It is a great topic for Sunday School, for catechism groups, adult and youth groups. For more information, please visit www.americantransplantfoundation.org or www.organdonor.gov/pdf/HRSADONORSABBATH.pdf. Let us know if we can help! Thanks.
While we’re on the topic of belief, I was recently asked by a couple of new friends why there is not very much “religious writing” coming from Wellspring Transplant Support Center. Given the fact that I am an ordained minister and that I’ve spent my entire professional career in ministry in health care settings, I guess a pretty good question. There has been some. My first post “Cold” (if you haven’t read it, please do) was a reflection on a moment of faith that involved Sandra, me, and a student chaplain, who has since become a dear friend. The post “Why Me?” (if you haven’t read it, please do) was my talking about some theological thoughts. But again, I have spend my career as a chaplain. Chaplains need to leave their own beliefs at the door. My role in my ministry was to meet those I worked with at their religious journey where they were stopped at the moment. Patients, families, physicians, staff, and administration were all my “flock”. There is an old chaplain saying that we are the only staff members that can move easily between the rest room and the board room. It’s true, and in meeting people in that full spectrum, I got to know many, many versions of what being “religious” is.
But OK, let’s talk about my faith. I am a Christian, ordained by the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A. Thanks to my Dad’s work as an organist, my religious development was pretty diverse. I was baptized in a Methodist church, first became a church member in a Reformed Church in America church, but attended Presbyterian, Episcopal, Baptist, Jewish, Church of God, Roman Catholic, and a few other congregations. I learned through my bringing up, education, and experience to respect all manners of faith. Just do the same for me.
But as this year’s National Donor Sabbath is upon us, I do want to share a personal perspective. I have to do an annual report to my home Presbytery. That gave me the opportunity for the these thoughts.
I would not wish the challenges that my family and I have faced in the past two years on anyone. However, I do wish everyone in ministry the opportunity that I’ve had to experience what it has been like to be ministered to. In the “deliberations and work of the presbytery and in the worship and service of a congregation” we who have been called to ministry focus on those to whom we can provide the deliberations, work, worship, and service – the people of God.
I have spent over thirty years providing ministry within the medical world, with the last 20+ years ministering in a children’s hospital. I’ve been tremendously blessed in my ministry
to others. However, the true blessings of being ministered to was never part of my awareness of being our Lord’s disciple and servant. In the past two years the prayers, the support, the encouragement, and the sharing of faith that I and my family have received over these difficult times have allowed me to truly understand what I’ve been trying to do for so long. I know now the truth and peace of being of the family of God. Whether it was from my brother and sisters, ordained or not, in Presbyterian ministry, my colleagues in pastoral care from Tampa General Hospital and Bayfront Medical Center, two Rabbis, the priests from St. Mary’s Catholic Church in St. Petersburg, and even people with whom my ministry called me to be with in their times of need, I know now firsthand the power of my Lord’s strength and peace as incarnated in those who ministered to me.
So, while I have not been providing active ministry in any formal sense in the past year and a half, I feel that my participation in the work, worship, and service of God’s people (including a 24 year old man who in his death literally gave me life) has been as valid, if not more so, that any of my years in active ministry – not in the giving but the receiving. And not only do I get to take my life forward, because of what I have experienced, my sense of commitment to returning to whatever form of ministry I am called to do tomorrow is greater now, then ever. When that call comes, my response will be, with Isaiah, “Here I am, send me!”
Please, in some way, join with me in recognizing National Donor Sabbath.