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In the middle

I picked up the phone. It’s simple enough, but it had been months and months since I’d answered the phone for St. Luke’s. But everything was finally set up so that calls come to my phone. So I picked it up.

The last call I had picked up was someone calling about a fundraiser. Thus, when I didn’t recognize the number I was hesitant to pick it up. I was in the middle of something else. But ministry tends to happen in the middle of something else most of the time and this was no exception.

Now it’s worth noting that we had debated about what we wanted to do with our phones. Did we want to change our number when we moved? St. Luke’s has had the same number for many years and we get all sorts of calls that are connected to things unrelated to our work because our number got written down somewhere and never seems to get removed. We get calls because of word of mouth. We get calls about space use in the historic home on Francisco, for example. But in the end, we concluded that it made the most sense to keep our phone number.

After that fundraising call from the Fraternal Order of Police — yep, that’s who called — I was doubting our decision. It might have just been easier to change our number.

But I picked up the phone.

“St. Luke’s, this is Claire speaking.”

A woman began to speak. She was trying to find out about her sister-in-law. Was she still in the ICU or “had she expired.”

Her voice was clear. It didn’t have any quavering in it, but she sounded exhausted. The regulations around visitors in the hospital has a lot of people exhausted. They’re understandable, are about keeping people safe, and they’re so hard.

“Are you calling for St. Luke’s hospital?”

I had to tell her that we weren’t St. Luke’s hospital, but a church. The operator had given her our number. Perhaps they just googled St. Luke’s and our number popped up as the first St. Luke’s. It does that sometimes.

I asked her to stay on the line while I looked up the number for St. Luke’s at Rush and was able to get it to her. I told her to call back if what I found didn’t work.

She then told me her name.

In all of that, I’d forgotten to ask.

I’m not sure how to say this, but in that moment when she spoke her name, something shifted inside me.

I thought I’d been the one doing the ministering that day. But there in front of me on the phone was Jesus, the one who knows each of us by name.

I’m glad she called.

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