Just in case you thought religion brought out the worst in people, here’s a nice Christmas story? A couple in Texas is pulled over—it’s a “non-speeding violation”—and the officer, Trooper Bates, takes the I.D. of the wife who is driving. He asks where they’re going.
To Dallas, they say, as the husband’s brother has unexpectedly died.
“Oh I’m sorry to hear that,” the officer says. “Do you know where he is?”
“Yes, at the morgue,” the husband says.
“No,” the officer says, “is he now in his heavenly home?”
The couple begins to cry a little bit.
The officer leaves to check the I.D., then returns, to give a warning on the offense . . . then takes off his hat and asks if he can pray with them?
Reliving the story on Facebook, Lanell McGee James says: “With so much going on nowadays with police killing people and people killing the police as well as racial tensions, I felt compelled to share this picture.”
She adds: “it was everything that we needed in that moment. Thank you so much Trooper Bates for praying with us!”
As the story spreads in local media and online, it does seem like a helpful sign the Christian teachings can be summoned for what they actually can do—create surprising shifts and interruptions in the ordinary world, and generate love and feeling where it didn’t seem possible.
Now if we can only get Christians to not focus on “where” people go after they die. Did Officer Bates not read N.T. Wright’s recent essay in Time on the Christian idea of “Heaven” being a bit of Greek silliness?
What then was the personal hope for Jesus’ followers? Ultimately, resurrection — a new and immortal physical body in God’s new creation. But, after death and before that final reality, a period of blissful rest.
But it’s a start.