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Written by Gradye Parsons

Each month the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and the Moderator or Vice Moderator of the 220th General Assembly write a column of general interest for the church-at-large.

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May 31, 2011

June 2011-Monthly column featuring Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons

Being there

I rarely see a really meaningful moment on a television medical drama. But I will have to confess that the writers for Grey’s Anatomy captured just such a moment.


An airplane had crashed into the harbor. The hospital was to be the trauma center where all of the survivors would be brought and families could gather for information. Then comes the sobering news: no survivors. So the doctors who had prepared to do lifesaving surgeries become grief counselors instead. One by one, the families are notified and most leave the hospital.


Suddenly, word comes that a survivor has been found – a young girl traveling home from visiting her grandparents. However, none of her family had arrived yet. As the husband of a couple that had lingered stands to leave, his wife won’t budge.


“What if that had been our son?” she asks. “Would we want him to be here all alone?” So she and the others who had lingered sit and wait.


Eventually the young girl’s mother arrives. The woman who refused to leave offers comfort to the mother while relaying nothing of her own grief. In fact, no one tells the mother that her child is the only survivor.


A large number of weather disasters this year – snowstorms, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, and floods – may leave us wondering who is left to care for whom. In addition, we have way too many people who are unemployed, and home foreclosures are at record highs.


To me, this is when the church can be its best self. We can’t control the weather or solve every financial crisis. But we can be present, so that no one has to face these crises alone.


Carly Simon sings, “There is more room in a broken heart.” We are the church; we serve a broken and risen Lord. Shoulder-to-shoulder, hand-in-hand, heart-to-heart, we can be there on Christ’s behalf.

Tags: letters, monthly column, office of the general assembly, statements