Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Never Prayed For Amy Winehouse

I don't know much about Amy Winehouse.  Though since her death on July 23, 2011 I've learned more about her than I ever knew while she was alive.  I was aware of her, had heard her name in passing.  But I couldn't have picked her out in a crowd.  Never listened to her music, never visited her website.  Never prayed for her.  Now she's dead.  Too late for Amy.

Amy Winehouse: September 14, 1983 - July 23, 2011
In the summer of 1977 I was still living at home with my parents and brother and sister in Wheeling, West Virginia.  We had moved there from New Jersey three years earlier.  We received a letter in late August from a friend back in Jersey, Kay Knight.

Kay was my first (non-relative) hero of the faith.  She'd been a missionary in India through much of the 50s and 60s.  When she returned to the States she attended the church my dad was the pastor of.  Kay was the only person in that church who had the courage to scold me.  One Sunday morning she was sitting right behind me and a couple of other young boys, I was maybe 11.  Apparently we weren't sitting still and getting a little loud during the service.  Kay leaned forward, poked me and stared down the other guys and said in her best church whisper, "You, especially, ought to know better."

So years later we got a letter from Kay.  It was within a week of the death of Elvis Presley.  And in her letter Kay wrote, "Elvis is dead.  I never prayed for him.  How far does our responsibility go?"

Now whenever I hear about the death of a celebrity those three short sentences echo in my head.  I still don't know the answer to Kay's question, how far does our responsibility go?  I'm pretty sure it goes further than what I'm doing.

I don't know what Amy Winehouse's relationship was with God.  To be honest, that was not my responsibility.  But a prayer for her may have made a difference.  She was such a non-factor in my life, like I said, I was only vaguely aware of her existence, that I think I'm off the hook here.  But what about other celeb-types?  Those whose work in movies or TV or music or sports or politics I admire?

That prayer list keeps getting longer.  No wonder the apostle Paul told us to pray without ceasing.