Being a minister has its ups and downs, just the same way our lives do. This past week was an uber-example of this.
The week started out with a lovely little memorial service for an eighty-something church member who was well loved in this city of 5200. Her family was delighted that so many showed up for the visitation and service. The service went well. A few friends volunteered to read scripture. The black and white wedding album on a table up near the lectern delighted everyone who had a chance to look through it,
As I left the service I traveled to the city to the hospital to visit and baptize a baby who’d had a stressful delivery. His parents were worried about him and insisted he should be baptized. We baptized him in the presence of family members and hospital staff. It was a sad and happy moment for all of us, but reassuring. And I know it helped this family to feel a little better later in the week when he died.
Tuesday night was the Trustees meeting in the church lounge. We always enter the room to the aroma of fresh coffee and there are usually cookies on the table. Our meetings tend to be pretty casual and sometimes we reign in the conversations that grow out of the business we’re doing. Sometimes we just let them go. And somehow those conversations seem to blossom into something important for all of us to know. “Did you know that Rotary will be providing free flu shots in October?”
On Wednesday night I spent a few hours finishing up the service for the newborn’s funeral. It would be on Thursday afternoon. I made cookies for a bake sale and went to bed late worrying a little about how to get everything done on Thursday, thinking about the parents and sister of the boy who died.
Thursday after an early worship team meeting I drove to the funeral home. I stayed close to the family during visiting. Several family members read during the service. It was very sad yet the life of this little boy was so respected and acknowledged by his family and the crowd of friends and family there that it felt like a very blessed time. I rode with the funeral director in front of the hearse as we carried this baby boy’s small casket to a rural cemetery that was twelve miles away in a little town called Ruby. It was a beautiful secluded spot. Thirty-five cars drove to that cemetery. We blessed the baby one last time. Everyone remained for a long time after the casket was lowered into the grave. It was completely quiet.
On Thursday night at church we had a special meeting to talk about how to use money that had been given to the church, designated for mission. As the meeting started we all seemed sluggish, but as we wrote down words to describe the church the conversation warmed up. To most everyone’s surprise we’d written very positive words. We felt good about what we were doing already. It was nice, having this opportunity to remember all the church is loved for. And new ideas started coming one after another; we could help homeless teens in town, focus on helping low income/ no income people, provide a place for free medical dental care, give money to a few of the local food pantries, provide physical help to the local pantries.
Today is Saturday. I’d like to breath a sigh of relief but I should be working on the sermon for tomorrow. Somehow it seems as though no matter how I prepare, on Sunday the sermon is simply going to come. We’re talking about wilderness. This past week has taken me in and out of the wilderness a few times and mostly I feel energized and thankful. I am grateful that God is always with us on the journey.