The healthiest, longest lived relationship I have ever been in broke up a month ago. The breakup-with-the-possibility-of-future-friendship was put to rest this last Sunday and what I thought was a broken heart before became a wasteland of grief and desolation. “Where is God in this?” I asked myself as I always do. “Nowhere.” was my tear stained, honest answer.
Two days later, I spoke with a friend, an ELCA Lutheran Staff Person with responsibilities for group ministries and education. Pastoral care was not her job description, but it was her job that morning. I cried out my anguish, particularly at feeling so distant from God in the situation. As all good pastors do, she sat with my pain, neither trying to fix nor mask it. I don’t remember what she said, when she finally spoke. I know it had something to do with prayer, because later that morning, I moved into the side chapel, lit some candles and tried to pray. Finally, I just prayed with sobs and “sighs too deep for words.” And God answered. From my friend’s email box, God sent me an email that said, “You are in my thoughts, and remember, you are loved by oh so many people.” That’s all. No prophetic word of healing, no lamentation, no parable. Just a “You are in my thoughts and loved by oh so many people.”
Sometimes that is all God needs to say. Sometimes that is all the church needs to say. It doesn’t matter if we are Evangelical or Progressive, Mainline or Emergent, Shrinking or Vibrant. Our doctrine and dogma (or lack thereof) doesn’t matter at all if we can’t sit with and be the hand of God for the hurting in our congregation. Because I am a Queer woman and my partner was another woman, I couldn’t turn to my biological family for that support. If I had a traditional workplace, I might or might not have had friends whom it would have been appropriate from which to seek solace. But THE place for comfort, presence, ministry is the church….doesn’t matter that she was ELCA instead of DOC….in fact, Jesus never asked for a denominational status, not even for a statistical purpose. But, in the worst moment I can imagine, I did learn that God sends emails.