Thursday, June 26, 2008

St. Joseph Chapel

Spending three days in a hospital waiting to bring your newest child home you go a little stir crazy. So, I started walking around the hospital grounds to see what they had. I found a koi pond, a labyrinth, and finally a chapel. According to Wikipedia,

Many newly made labyrinths exist today, in churches and parks. Labyrinths are used by modern mystics to help achieve a contemplative state. Walking among the turnings, one loses track of direction and of the outside world, and thus quiets his mind. The result is a relaxed mental attitude, free of internal dialog. This is a form of meditation. Many people believe that meditation has health benefits as well as spiritual benefits.”

The pamphlet put out by the labyrinth had some quotes from eastern mystics and even an excerpt from “Conversations with God” My suspicions of pluralism were confirmed when I visited the chapel and found not only a cross, but symbols of Judaism, Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism. There was a locked box near the altar. They provided slips of paper on which you were encouraged to ask one question of God. I asked, “Am I good enough to go to heaven?” and then included on the paper.

Later on, a nun came to our room and informed us that she was there to offer any spiritual assistance we might need. I thanked her and commented on how I had visited the chapel. I asked her about why there were five different religions represented behind the altar. She told me that there are several paths, but they all go to the same place. Molly later told me she was astonished that a Catholic nun would so blatantly contradict her own faith. I smiled and commented to the nun that I thought that was a sweet sentiment, but wondered how she reconciled that up with what Jesus said. “Broad is the road that leads to destruction, but small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life.” She looked surprised and asked me if I was a pastor. I told her that I was just a lay person who likes to “get out of the boat” and look for fish. I explained that I, too, thought that all religions were variations on the same theme, but came to find out that Jesus stands in stark opposition to the religions of the world. I gave her a “Why Christianity” booklet from Living Waters telling her that this really helped me understand how they are different. She thanked me
and told me that it would be her reading and meditation material for the next day. Let’s pray for her.

So, Molly and I were flipping channels in the room and found a channel with the chapel on it. Looking at the water in the background moving, I figured that this was a live shot. I told Molly to not switch the channel and ran out of the room. When I made it to the altar, my phone rang. Molly was able to see me on the TV in the room. Then, she said, “Hey, I heard your phone ring... on the TV!” Um... I put two and two together, told Molly to turn up the volume and I hung up.

Stepping up to the altar, with nobody in the audience but the camera, I preached the Law and the gospel to the best of my ability. I prayed that God would have some of the rooms turned to that same channel and let it rip. I started out by mentioning that whether you were here on your deathbed, or just visiting someone who is, this will be the most important message you are going to hear. We are not promised tomorrow, so please consider my words.

Like many of you, I can’t look at the world the same way since I have been born again. I can’t look at a line of people waiting for a sports game without wanting to pull over and share the gospel. I can’t look at a person by them-self asking me directions without handing them a gospel tract. And, now I can’t look at a hospital chapel with closed circuit TV wired to every room in the place and not resist the urge to stand up and preach for twenty minutes the only message that will save those who hear it.