Monday, November 02, 2009

Surprises in Worship, again

Elaine had opened things up in her usual exuberant style, sharing about the "Support Sara's Thailand Trip" project. The worship team took it from there, launching into a peppy version of "He Reigns." A little faster than I would usually take it, but it seemed to be working - people were singing and clapping, hands raised across the sanctuary. It all pointed toward a wonderful morning together.

Somewhere about the bridge ("and all the powers of darkness tremble at what they just heard") I noticed a small commotion over there on the right side, about 1/2 way back. People jumping over pews, people clearing out space, people diving to the floor.

"Either a kid crawling around under people's feet," I thought to myself, "or we have a medical emergency on our hands."

Turned out to be the latter. Peggy was on the floor, having a seizure.

What happened next was quite amazing to witness. Right behind Peggy was Mike, a senior chief with the Gig Harbor fire department, a man trained in rescue response, a man used to dealing with just these situations. He was there in an instant. Across the aisle was Sean, a member of our own Key Peninsula FD 16, a man also trained in emergency response. He was there right after Mike. Peggy couldn't have asked for better medical care in that moment.

At the same time, Tracy recognized that this was no place for kids, and so quickly rounded up the children and herded them downstairs. While someone else was on the phone to 911. While Doug was on the phone with Peggy's brother. While Mike S. was out on the street to guide the EMTs in. While Duncan was leading the congregation in prayer.

And another blessing in the moment - Peggy had been standing right next to Harvey and Carla, two of the strongest prayer warriors I know. So while Mike and Sean worked to care for Peggy, Harvey and Carla and the rest were deep in prayer, seeking God's healing hand as well.

And, if I may interject my own self into the story. . .I found myself, the pastor, with pretty much nothing to do. The people were taking care of all that needed to be done, and it was to me to let them serve as God had gifted them all. It was a little disconcerting to find myself task-less, and yet it was beautiful to watch the Body in action.

The EMTs arrived (all friends and co-workers of Sean's), Peggy was loaded onto the stretcher and taken out to the awaiting ambulance, pews were put back into place, Duncan and I quickly conferred and decided to switch songs around ("On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand" seemed appropriate), and we carried on.

Between Mike and Sean, I ascertained that Peggy was stable and somewhat conscious on the way out, so it seemed the crisis had passed; thus, we were able to bring assurance to the congregation; still, coming back from such an emotional, shocking place took some time. I'm still wondering what our visitors thought about the whole thing.

The good news is that I visited Peggy in the hospital later yesterday evening, and she was stable and alert, so it appears everything ended as well as we could have hoped. Which is a relief; I must admit, even as I saw Mike on the floor working, even before I knew it was Peggy, even before that initial shock gave way to action, part of me wondered if somebody hadn't just died in our sanctuary, part of me started to go down the "what if" road. Wondering how, as a pastor, to handle that situation.

But, as I said, in the end I was impressed by the way our people reacted, the way the Body worked together to care for Peggy, to care for the kids, to care for each other. It was a blessing to witness.

And it was a good chance to see guys like Mike and Sean in their element. Pastors are trained to do a lot of things; emergency medical response is not usually one of those things. But right where my gifting and training come to a screeching halt, there were our guys, used to this sort of thing, trained and capable to manage the situation. And it was a thing of beauty to seem them in action. I thank God that they were in the service today.
Really, I was left even more thankful for all our people, their quick response of prayer and action, their hearts in carrying on to worship, their sensitivity and care for the moment. While I would never wish for this sort of thing to happen again, I was blessed to go through it with this group of Lakebay people. And I think Peggy would admit there was no better place for this to happen, no better people to have around her when this occurred. And a good God watching over it all, orchestrating a beautiful morning out of what could have been a disaster.

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