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Today, I heard the news that Rick Warren’s son committed suicide.  I can’t imagine what pain a parent would feel upon hearing the news that his or her own son ended their own life.

Granted, I may not agree with many theological points that Rick Warren believes.  His style of ministering and preaching may not be my style.

But, without a doubt, he is a child of God just as you and I are children of God.  He is part of the same Body of Christ that we belong.  He is made in the image of God the way all of us are made in God’s image.  God loves Rick Warren as much as God loves all of us.  And on the other side of heaven, Rick Warren will be there along with all of us.

Right now, God mourns with Rick.  God cries with Rick.  God surrounds Rick and his family with love, grace, comfort and peace.

We are called to do the same.

Because there is a hole in the heart and spirit of Rick, there is a hole in our spirits as well.  Because we are all part of the same vine and branches, we feel the branch that has been lost because Rick’s son Matthew is not walking with us on earth.  We feel a tremor in the whole body because Rick and his family have experienced this loss.

I tire hearing some theological traditions that believe that suicide sends people to hell.  Suicide is a result of mental illness.  As depression is a health issue, it can consume a person so greatly.  People do not choose to end their lives because Satan or some “evil force” causes them commit suicide.  Because of body chemistry and hormones, depression grasps the emotions of a person and causes them to understand reality in different ways.   This is a scientific and medical reality.  So Matthew isn’t in hell.  Matthew is finally seeing God in God’s fullest.  Matthew is able to see himself as God sees him.  Matthew can experience God’s full love and grace.  And Matthew is still a member of the great Cloud of Witnesses who will welcome us as we transition from this life to the next.

May the Warren family feel God’s peace, love and comfort during this time.  We pray for all who are contemplating suicide tonight and those who experience deep depression.  Amen.

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