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At the Bedside

posted Sep 28, 2018, 8:30 AM by Tricia Sheffield

Grace and peace to you!


So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Corinthians 5.17)


Last weekend, I heard a story about the power of new creation and things becoming new and I want to share it with you. (I was given permission to share this story, but I have left out names to respect people’s privacy).


A middle-aged man sat at the bedside of an unconscious woman who recently had a stroke. Her husband of many years had died a few months ago, and now here was his beloved, soon to join him. She was not a relative of the man, but was very much family to him. She and her husband, pillars in their church and in the Reformed Church in America (RCA), had been staunchly supportive of him when he came out as gay, and their support had continued throughout his lifetime. So, it was absolutely fitting that he would be there for her at such a time as this. He held her hand, prayed, and sang hymns to her, favorites like “Great Is Thy Faithfulness, “Amazing Grace,” “How Great Thou Art,” and “It is Well With My Soul.” 


After a while, the door to the room opened and in walked an elderly man. He introduced himself, but the other man knew exactly who he was as both had been members of the same church. And he remembered him as not being welcoming and affirming of his identity as a gay man during that time. The middle-aged man, in return, told the elderly man his name and said he was aware of who he was.


The elderly man said he had heard him singing hymns to the woman, and asked if he might join in the singing. And so they did. Sitting together, they sang, giving comfort to her, and perhaps themselves. When they finished, the elderly man turned to the other man and said he remembered who he was, and he wanted to tell him something. He said that he had changed his mind about him and LGBTQ people. He now knew that God loves and welcomes all people into the full life of the church. He stated that he had a gay grandson and a bisexual granddaughter, and that he was so happy that his grandson had found love and partnership with his husband. And he wished the same for his granddaughter and for others. After a pause, the elderly man said, “I imagine it’s been very lonely for you.” The middle aged man agreed it had been. They continued to sit together, holding the woman’s hands, a tentative, new creation of welcome and affirmation having been born around her bedside.


This is the power of transformation that only God’s encompassing love can bring. This is the power of the Holy Spirit to change the hearts and minds of people. This is the power of the Holy Spirit to change us.


I’m pretty sure the woman heard the exchange between the two men, as the ability to hear is the last to go in such a waning state. As a loyal and beautiful supporter of LGBTQ people in the RCA, I imagine she must have been very happy to be not only a witness to this reconciling act, but a catalyst for it at the end of her life. She died last Sunday. Rest in peace and rise in glory, faithful servant of God.


But, Lord, ‘tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,

The sky, not the grave, is our goal;

Oh trump of the angel! Oh voice of the Lord!

Blessèd hope, blessèd rest of my soul!


It is well, with my soul,

It is well, with my soul,

It is well, it is well, with my soul.


In gratitude for the privilege of being your Pastor, and the holy call of loving you,


Pastor Trish


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