One of the more emotional parts of my job as a pastor is conducting funerals. New Song Church has connections to many people who live close to the edge. I bury more young, than I do old people. Overdose, suicide and tragic circumstances are often part of the funerals I am called to.
One funeral was a particularly, tough day. It was Andrea’s[i] funeral. She was a young single mother who died accidentally from a drug overdose. She lived close to the church and I often saw her and seven year old daughter Amber going to the store or coming to our church suppers on Friday night.
In the crowded funeral parlor, I stood in front of the open casket to conduct the service. Behind me lay Andrea’s still body. Six feet in front and to the left of me sat Amber next to a Children’s Aid worker. As I looked into seven-year-old eyes, I broke and wept. In that moment I saw clearly and touched the edge of what an orphan is. An orphan cannot go back and find comfort from the same source. The future is uncertain and accompanied by deep sadness. The only hope for orphans is found in discovering new family and learning to love again.
On that day I felt a piercing of my armor. I could not maintain calm professionalism and a stiff, upper lip. My lips quivered and my voice cracked with gentle tears as I brought direction to the service.
The title of my blog is ‘The Orphan Age – Loners Learning About Community’. Adoption is a metaphor of the Kingdom of God. We are lonely orphans invited into the family community of God. Like a child adopted at an older age, we are in process unlearning dysfunctional origins in favor of new family values.
Even if you grew up in the faith (like I did), there are hand-me-down values that need to be refreshed and refitted to each generation. There are many loners in God’s family.
People hurt each other and drift apart. The worst experiences of life set us back and we grow insecure. We may not be orphans, but we become estranged. Jesus invites us to follow closely and rediscover the family He is creating.