Mixed Messages

Hello friends,
Sorry I haven't posted in a while. I promise this week I'll get back to the Disciples are series, and even though Ed's series on writing as a ministry has past, I'll post that soon as well. Things have been crazy around here.

On Sunday afternoon, I had a pretty jarring phone call from a friend informing me that one of our band mates from Westminster's Bridge service was in a pretty bad motorcycle accident. We heard that things were touch and go for a couple of days, and then on Tuesday he passed away. He was one of the goofiest guys on the planet for sure, but he had a heart that was three times the size of most people, and just a terrific guy to be around.

In the days following his passing, I kept getting phone calls from people telling me how sorry they were that he had passed. Facebook and Twitter were a flurry of activity as people were offering their condolences. Don't get me wrong, I really appreciated my web family (should I even be typing that...yikes...) showing their support as I lost a friend. But something seemed off about the whole thing. Something seemed wrong about people telling me that they were sorry. And I couldn't quite place it until my sister called me.

She asked me towards the end of the conversation "Can you even imagine the party Alan and Jesus are having right now?" Once I got past the image of Jesus (you know, the white guy in the bathrobe we all have in our churches) dancing to disco music with multi-colored lights in the background, I realized what had been so unsettling about people offering their condolences. My pastor had it even better a while back when he told me he complained to the Presbytery office, because when they sent out some announcement e-mails from time to time they would write "It is with great sadness that we announce that John Doe has entered the Kingdom Triumphant." It's one or the other, you are either sad that a person is no longer a part of your life, or you're ecstatic that they're with the Lord.

Now, as previously mentioned, there's an appropriate time for mourning. There's a time for grieving and crying and all of the natural pieces of grief when a person dies. But for me, Alan was the closest friend I've had die (you could argue I was much closer with my grandmother, but she had alzheimer's pretty bad, so I wasn't incredibly close with her when she passed), and the truth of the matter is that I sit here today at my kitchen table, and I tell you I am convinced Alan is in the Kingdom of God right now. I'm certain of it. It's a fact.

So I want to be happy in the midst of great loss. I want to giggle at the thought of Alan starting a dodgeball tournament in heaven. I want to be jealous of the amazing rock band I'm sure he's already formed. I want to rejoice that he's met the Savior. And until I see that big dufusy face again, I want to live the way he lived, knowing that people matter, and that tiny things can bring about huge change for the kingdom.

Godspeed Alan,