A mother I know had this conversation with her preschooler the other day.
Kiddo: How did the neighbor’s dog get to heaven?
Mamma: Well, she died.
Kiddo: I know that. But how did she get to heaven?
Mamma, inwardly panicking: Well, how do you think she got there?
Kiddo: In a car. There are separate cars for people and dogs. One is pink and one is purple. They are big cars, so that everyone can fit in. God picks you up, and then keeps you.
Who could deny this child her eschatological vision, her hoped for glimpse into God’s heavenly realm full of pink and purple cars for puppies and people alike? At church and at home, this child has been allowed to wonder about God, not just in times of joy and gratitude, but in times of loss and sadness, like when her neighbor’s dog died. In the midst of her imagining God’s heavenly transportation system, she has expressed part of our core theological identity: that in life and in death, God picks you up and keeps you. Surely her vision comes, not just because she has a beautifully wild theological imagination, but because she, too, has experienced the love of God who “picks you up, and then keeps you.”
At Kenilworth Union Church, part of the way that this congregation experiences the wide love of our God who “picks you up, and then keeps you” is through our Stephen Ministry. Stephen Ministers are members of our congregation who have been specially trained to support people in need – experiencing the loss of a loved one, hospitalization, separation or divorce, terminal illness, loneliness, unemployment, life transitions or a family crisis. They are there for you in those times of loss and sadness when you most need to be wrapped up in God’s love, when you most need someone to be by your side to hear your story.
When we gather this Sunday to worship our God, the One who “picks you up, and then keeps you,” we will celebrate our Stephen Ministers. I hope you will join us in gratitude for their ministry among us.
Rev. Katie Snipes Lancaster