I was out of the country recently when a member of my congregation died. When this happens I feel the pain of being unable to do anything helpful, and a little guilt as well. That’s when I relearn a basic lesson in ecclesiology: I belong to a community of faith that knows how to be a church in my absence.
Steve’s death from a heart attack was completely unexpected. He was 49 with no known health issues. He was a successful and widely respected businessman as well as an officer of the congregation. His loss will be felt for a long time.
Elaine Pagels begins her book Beyond Belief with a reference to standing in a church vestibule. She is not a churchgoer. But a few days before, a doctor had told Pagels and her husband that their two-year-old son was terminally ill.