GRIEF, GRACE AND GROWTH
By Pastor Michael Church
Pastor Terri and I went to the beach with a hundred of our dear colleagues last month. We did not go swimming or sunbathing though, since it was October. Instead, we listened to a woman with incurable cancer talk about her faith.
In 2008, Deanna Thompson was a wife and mother, as well as a professor of religion at Augsburg College. After her back began to ache, she was found to have a series of broken bones in her spine. This was unusual enough – but the doctors could not explain why these bones had broken. Tests followed, and the results were harrowing.
She had breast cancer. It was Stage IV already, and while it could be treated, it would never go away.
In the years since, as Dr. Thomson has lived with this disease, she has reflected deeply on the spirituality of bodies, of illness, of grief and of hope. Her official subject, in a series of lectures to the Gathering of the Ministerium at Virginia Beach, was “Being the Church in an Age of Pandemic.” The topic is an important one. The last few years have marked the greatest disruption of week-to-week church life in American history. Many of us, especially in leadership positions, are confused, exhausted, and even frightened.
What set Dr. Thompson’s remarks apart from the usual pablum spoon-fed to church leaders, in which we are encouraged to expect miraculous reversal of unfortunate circumstances if only we adopt some writer’s new program, is that everything she said was permeated with her own sobering reality.
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