"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Monday, April 12, 2010

The sermon hit close to home today

The street was full of police cars, EMT’s, and fire trucks as I left for church this morning about 7:30 a.m. As I drove past the house, I also noticed a cordon of police “crime scene” tape had been run around the front and sides of the house, including the driveway and cars. Living in a community for senior adults, you do see the occasional paramedic parked in a driveway due to some illness, fall, or other age-related thing….but, this was way different. And I felt it in my soul. Later in the day, the emergency vehicles were gone, the tape had been removed, and the house stood empty and abandoned from the hubbub of the morning.

I heard in a few minutes that our neighbor had committed suicide on his back porch sometime early in the morning hours on Sunday. One of our neighbors. An elderly neighbor. This was the man I saw walking a lot and would always wave. He spent a lot of time sitting in another guy’s garage passing the time of day and playing with the dog. Again, always waving when I drove past or walked along the sidewalk. I never knew his name, just his face and his pleasant demeanor. Just two days ago, he was waving as I drove home from the store.

His wife passed away a few years ago, so he had been alone for some time, however, he didn’t appear to be depressed or despondent after this season of time. I mean, he was outside a lot and spoke to everyone in the community. Aren’t suicidal people supposed to sit inside all the time in the dark and cry as they ate their pitiful meals? Aren’t they supposed to shun all attempts at social interaction and rarely smile? What was going on with my neighbor? And why would older people think of suicide? Shouldn’t they have it all together?

Our Pastor spoke this morning about our “God’s network” of people. Those we come in contact with in our homes, schools, jobs, stores, and neighborhoods. He urged us in a very clear way to get involved with other where they are…wherever…. This would then lead to a relationship that can help us to introduce them to Jesus. Did my neighbor know Jesus? I don’t know. We make the assumptions that all senior adults are Christian, but that’s a terribly incorrect assumption. I never took the time to stop and chat…just drove past and waved. I enjoyed seeing him and his friend spending all the time in their garage easy chairs and envied their friendship and relaxed lifestyle. Little do we know.
I can’t seem to get my mind off the events of the day. I realized that the old saying “there but for the grace of God, go I.” Do I spend the time with my “networks” to know if there are needs that Jesus can meet? Do I spend the time with my “networks” to know if there are needs that I can meet? I don’t know, but I can feel sure that I will be working on this in coming days. At least as far as my life is concerned, my neighbor’s death will not be in vain.

So, tonight the house is empty and dark. His car is locked in the garage and there is a wreath on the front door. The neighborhood is in shock. I pray for the little lady who opened her breakfast room blinds this morning and found what had happened next door. I pray for the little man and his dog that now has no one to sit with in his garage. For me, I’ll be getting out of the gym and walking along the sidewalk, stopping by to pat the dog, and say “hi” to him more often. I pray for all of us to get to know those in our “God’s Network” and reach out to them in the name of God.

And for today my friends, this is the gospel according to Jimmy. Sadly.