Wednesday, October 7, 2009

For a Time such as This

I have heard a few wise pastors say that Christianity is about preparation for death, that the culmination of the Christian life is a Christian end. And so it is that Christians can approach a time like this with sadness lightened by hope, the load of grief lifted by God's promise, looking at our death through the lens of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This afternoon, Pastor Kadlubiec, one of the two pastors of my congregation in Trinec died. Two weeks ago, during one of the regular weekly meetings he had with the seniors from the church, he suffered a brain aneurysm. He'd been in the hospital ever since and made quite rapid improvement from the aneurysm, not even ending up with any paralysis. In the hospital, the doctors discovered an irregularity in his heartbeat, but that also seemed to have corrected itself during the course of his hospital stay.

Pastor Kadlubiec was slated to return home to Hutnik (the parish hall building where I also live) today. I have been told that he was here around noon today. After that, the details get a bit fuzzy for me. Around 1:00 I saw an ambulance from my window, but didn't know what to think of that, because a lot of hospital-related practices here are still a mystery to me. There wasn't any frenzied activity happening, and I hadn't heard any sirens, so I wasn't too concerned. At that time, I needed to go visit Sarka (Pastor Klus' wife) and on my way walked past the Kadlubiec's door. Some other people who work at the church were standing around the open door, and I asked if Pastor was home. One of them answered yes, but that the doctor was seeing him now. So, I put off saying "hi" and went to see Sarka. I returned to my apartment after half an hour, and about an hour later, my roommate knocked on the door and told me that Pastor had died. We were both so shocked because he was supposed to be healthy and coming home to stay.

Anyway, at this time, I still don't know the exact cause of death. His brain was supposed to be okay. His heart was supposed to be okay.

In my thoughts, and those of several of the church ladies I've spoken with, has been the inevitable "you never know when it'll happen." Pastor had just turned 60 in May. We have NO control over the two major events of our lives (birth and death), and very little control over many of the events that happen in between those two. Why do we think that we do? God only is the one who numbers the hairs on our heads and the years of our lives.

I've also been struck with the futility, stupidity of a lot of the things in life that we waste our precious time on (surprise-- not... I'm actually struck by this frequently). Death puts the value of Christ into stark relief against the "value" of other things: games, television, clothes, beauty, knowledge, money, happiness, and any other of the precious little idols that we set up.

I have the scene between Martha and Jesus in Bethany after Lazarus' death playing out in my head, but in the scene, I'm Martha.
Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world." John 11:21-27
Unlike Martha, I suppose I wouldn't tell Jesus that He should have been here. I know that He was. But just like Martha, I know that whatever the Son asks from the Father, the Father will give Him and that my brother Pavel will rise again on the last day. Though Pr. Kadlubiec has died, he shall live, and though I die, so shall I too live again. You too, dear reader: believe and live in Christ Jesus, and never die.

Please pray for Irena, Pastor's wife. Pray also for their four children, their spouses, and for the grandchildren. Keep this congregation and all of SCEAV in your prayers, as Pastor's death is a great loss to the whole Silesian Evangelical Church.


elise said...

praying for you all.

a woman at my work/organization died suddenly this week too, i was processing pretty much the same way you are, though i probably knew her less.

love you.

erinalter said...

i am so sorry to hear of your loss! from the things you have written, it has been clear that you and the other members at your church there have been greatly blessed with your pastors. you will all be in my prayers...