A Moment for Mission
“For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth; the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever.” — Isaiah 65:17-18a, NRSV
Before Jennifer Loud was diagnosed in 2002 with mixed connective tissue disease, she and her husband, Marc, were active in The Emory Fellowship, a United Methodist congregation in Washington. She operated and managed a law practice focused on probate, estate planning and personal injury. The couple enjoyed raising twin sons.
With the diagnosis came a variety of symptoms that worsened as the disease progressed.
“By 2017,” Jennifer said, “I was diagnosed with end-stage lung disease. I had developed a serious heart condition, pulmonary arterial hypertension. I was on supplemental oxygen 24-7. My prognosis was poor. A double-lung transplant was the only option.”
Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, bringing transplants to a temporary halt. Jennifer’s medical appointments became virtual. In August 2020, Jennifer received a long-awaited call from the University of Maryland Transplant Center at Baltimore. She had a donor match.
“The transplant,” she said, “saved my life. I give God glory and praise for orchestrating my entire transplant journey,” Jennifer said. “I prayed that God would put me in the hands of skilled and experienced surgeons and send me a medical team that understood my complex medical history. I asked God to deliver a double, not a single, lung transplant.”
United Methodists observe Organ and Tissue Donor Sunday on the second Sunday in November. On this Special Sunday, we come together around the issues of life and thanksgiving.
“God answered all of my prayers,” a grateful Jennifer said.
What is an organ? A musical instrument?
What is a tissue? Something in which to sneeze or to wrap a gift?
And what is a donor?
In The United Methodist Church, we celebrate Organ and Tissue Donor Sunday. In this case, an organ is a group of tissues in a living organism that has a specific form and function. Examples are your heart, kidneys and lungs. Sometimes, perhaps because of disease, a person’s organ quits working effectively, and they become very sick. That’s where the word “donor” comes in. A donor is an individual who shares an organ or tissue so that someone else can have a fuller life.
On Organ and Tissue Donor Sunday, United Methodists encourage people to help others in this way.
Loving God, on Organ and Tissue Donor Sunday, we celebrate the “new heavens and new earth” provided by the generous gift of life. Thank you! We love you. Amen.
From Discipleship Ministries: Twenty-Third Sunday after Pentecost — Holy God who calls us to the journey: it is so easy for us to become distracted so that we wander off the path you have put before us. The chaos of the world around us catches our attention, and we neglect the inner journey that keeps us closer to you. As we set aside this time to bring our gifts to you, may you draw our attention back to the wisdom and guidance that you put before us, and may it lead us to endurance that will carry us to kingdom presence! In Christ, we pray. Amen. (Luke 21:5-19)
“During my four months in the hospital,” Jennifer Loud said, “my church, family and friends prayed nonstop. They organized 24-hour prayer vigils. They rallied around me.”
Jennifer, who recently celebrated the two-year anniversary of her double-lung transplant, is thriving. She learned that her donor’s gift had saved the lives of four people.
“I believe that I must live my life to its fullest,” she said, “and love, enjoy and experience life even more as my expression of appreciation for the gift that was given to me. I must continue to seek and fulfill God’s purpose for my life, especially for the extra time that has been added. I must look for and find ways to be of service to others.
“My hope is that others will see the second chance that organ donation has given me and will consider being organ donors themselves.”
Organ and Tissue Donor Sunday is an opportunity to consider new ways to follow Jesus and to help others find abundant life.
Barbara Dunlap-Berg, freelance writer and editor, retired from UMCom