with us.

I know I’ve been talking about Mark. But I wanted to tell you something I’ve been telling people in hospital rooms recently.

It’s about a thing that is known as the Great Commission, found in Matthew 28.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to follow all that I commanded you; and behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

I stand in rooms with families at really hard times. Some of them wonder, gently, about God’s presence, God’s awareness of their situation.

I have said, “You know, my whole church life the focus of conversations about this text have been on going out and getting converts. It’s felt like we have to measure up. But what’s been capturing my attention recently is where Jesus starts and ends.

“He starts with talking about authority. All authority rests with him. He ends with being with us. All the way to the end of time.

“I know that we’d love to have that authority mean that our loved one will be healed. But we know that doesn’t always happen. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the power. And it doesn’t mean that fixing illness means he isn’t here.

“In fact, he says that he’s always here. Through all the deaths and illnesses, all the births, all the struggles, all the questions, all the arguments. He’s always present.

“The first and the last part are assurances, are commitments. The middle part is an invitation. And our teaching doesn’t decide whether his commitments hold.”

I don’t say it to everyone. And never as a club.

But I’ve found it helpful You might, too.