The Emergency Room Church


Tonight I sit writing this in an emergency room, waiting and waiting. Don’t get all worried. It seems to be no big deal, and I’ll go home soon.

But here I have sat, for 4 hours, having had an EKG and blood drawn. Those must not have been too remarkable, which is good. It’s not a good thing when they rush you right back in the ER.

The people here are an interesting cross-section of society.

Some are alone. Some have a friend who arrives to comfort them and cheer them up. It seems to work, as the patients’ tears cease. Some have a whole horde with them; 2 are allowed back, but 5 more wait in the waiting room.

Some are well-dressed. Some are not. Tattoos and piercings abound. Lots of iPhones are in use; one woman has 2.

Some wait quietly. Some talk to the strangers around them. Some throw fits and demand to be treated quicker. Some seem to be frequent fliers since every employee knows their name.

A girl about 15 years old nurses her baby.

An inmate is here with 2 policeman. His face looks like he’s been in a fight. If he won, I’d hate to see the other guy.

From the names called I know there are at least 2 other Regina’s here.

Various languages are spoken. I have heard 3 different ones, but surprisingly, no Spanish.

3 young Muslim men are here following a Ramadan celebration where one was injured somehow.

One family seems to be the Sikh religion with both the man and his wife wearing curved knives at their waists. The man wears a turban and leather slippers with toes that curl up and back over the shoe. Their little 3 year old daughter is very well-behaved and they play quietly and lovingly with her.

I see a man who was admitted at the same time as me a few years ago when I had inpatient headache treatment. His legs now look like he is headed for an amputation or two. They weren’t that bad then. Then he goes out for a smoke.

The people are wall-to-wall. They’ve run out of room and rooms. I am finally treated in the hall.

I can’t help thinking that our churches should be like this. Mark 2:15-17 records:

Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?”
When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

A church should be like the emergency room, full of people who need help: people from all walks of life, many cultures, socio-economic and educational levels, looking for help. They are sick, in need of a doctor. Some are crying, some quiet, some throwing a fit.

And the Great Physician is able to clean them all up, make them better, heal them. But if the church rejects them, kicks them out because they’re not well enough, they will never be whole.

Christianity shouldn’t be all clean and tidy. It should be germy and messy and inconvenient.

3 thoughts on “The Emergency Room Church

  1. Beautifully said! Why do we think people have to be cleaned up and “Christianized” before we can start talking to them about a Savior who always loved and accepted people right where they were?

  2. Thanks Regina so well put but what and how do we correct this in out churches ? I pray that God will open our eyes and hearts so we can become more like the ER. Have we become so comfortable with where we are that we are uncomfortable around those that are in need, I believe so. Help us Lord.

  3. There are churches like this and I believe that ours is one of them thanks to the vision of those who pastor it and the willingness of those who follow that vision to exercise their particular gifts within it. Thank you for reminding us what it is all about.

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