June 2018

We Must be Christ for One Another

Fran Whelan

Preface: I work at a call center taking reservations for a major hotel chain and manage loyalty club guest members’ accounts.

 

I had a profound experience at work the other day. I had met a guest over the phone who needed to stay at one of our hotels that night. She was low on funds and low on loyalty points. She was a member of our loyalty program. It could have been a simple reservation but it went much deeper. I could hear defeat and hurt in her voice and I felt pity and mercy towards her. She told me she had just stayed with us the night before. So, instead of waiting the obligatory 3 days for the points to be put on her account, I added the transaction immediately. It put her points just shy of the minimum she needed. Then I issued her 50 points in goodwill, that I can offer at my discretion. It gave her enough points for a reduced stay. Well the call could have ended with just booking the stay.

But she began to tell me why she was desperate to check-in late into our hotel. (It is easiest to tell our tale to strangers because we will never meet again, and, thus a healing ministry began between us.) She told me she was about to be installed as the new pastor of a nondenominational church. A wonderful, joyous event, right?!?! However, she felt that the forces of evil were attacking her from all sides and she found herself in a pit of despair. She had come out of a 21-year marriage where she and her husband shared a 12-year ministry. They divorced because he had an affair and eventually married the other woman. She herself remarried but her current husband turns out to be verbally abusive.

Two personalities came out in me: The Women’s Movement/#MeToo activist and the compassionate Catholic. The activist in me told her to stop beating herself up for the actions of others, in particular, her 2 husbands. The Compassionate Catholic in me held her in prayer and told her to seek out other Protestant women pastors, who had solid theological grounding and training. She needed to network ASAP and hopefully be invited to join a support group or prayer group in one of those other churches. I let her know that I was Catholic and belong to a faith sharing group which provides support and food for the Soul. I said, “Though we all come from different theological orientations, we all believe in the same Jesus Christ and the Holy Trinity.” I also explained that by seeking help outside of her own church, she would be able to help her own congregation. She saw herself as one who is caring, giving and upbeat. I hope by the Grace of God she will find herself again – this time stronger! (There’s that advocate again! Silly me.) She reached her destination at our hotel and thanked me for “the miracle you provided me.” I had to take a short break afterwards so I could recollect myself before the next call.

So, as Martin Luther once said, all Christians should be like Christ to one another. We should be Christ to others of other faiths too, other cultures, and orientations. Encounter people where they are. Show them Mercy, show them Compassion, show them Love. BE PRESENT! If there was ever a need for these things and the Good News proclaimed, it is now.

Can I get an AMEN? (my guest is speaking thru me now.)

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