A day in the garden: pulled weeds, planted onions and a tree, got a flower bed rebuilt, cleaned up the yard, got garden ready for rest of early and late spring plantings, did laundry, straightened up the house, dealt with mail, went to bed early, ready in body, spirit and soul for the week.
Three powerful, rich worship services filled the morning and I acknowledged once again that I work with not just a first-rate team, but with a first-rate team who love Jesus, honor and care for each other, and are willing to essentially be invisible with their talents and gifts so the congregation can just be held, free to worship. Enjoyed great first Sunday lunch afterward, touched by one woman’s prep of a gluten-free dish for me which she made sure was set aside, had delightful conversations, never left the church that afternoon, took a 20 minute nap, entered a mid-afternoon meeting to discuss a concern about something that happened in a Bible study the previous week, taught the combined youth/adult confirmation class, clarified dates of confirmations and baptisms with increasingly rich discussion on the part of everyone involved.
Stumbled home approximately 13 hours after I had left that morning. Got a text message that one of our dearest, and oldest members of the congregation was in the hospital but would be going home the next morning. Responded that I would try to get by there the next day.
Forgoing usual lazy morning off, I went to church to work on Lent and Holy Week worship services, met with worship team, tried to figure out why the worship of the day before had been so particularly powerful and impactful and finally decided it was just God’s gift to us, learned that the person in the hospital who was supposed to go home was instead in surgery and so asked one of the faithful congregational care persons to go by and check on here which she immediately agreed to do, spent the afternoon writing the week’s newspaper article and started a piece I need to write about the Scouting situation, phone call took me back to church earlier than planned to get ready for SPRC meeting. Met with SPRC for an hour and a half, new chair, several new members, getting everyone oriented and making plans for staff evaluations, finally stumbled home about 11 hours after I had left that morning. Just as I was reaching the house, took a long phone call from a dear, dear friend who is very ill but who wanted to come visit for a while. We discussed dates and I suggested she come next week and stay about eight days.
In the office early, finished editing the article and sent it off to two newspapers, finalized the three Ash Wednesday services, continued to work on Holy Week services, learned that the dear saint in the hospital had returned to the nursing home and that her family are handling her rapidly approaching death well and competently, dealt with a bookkeeping issue, left for an health-connected appointment an hour away, slipped into Cokesbury to pick up a few things, no time for lunch, emerged from appointment too late to miss northbound traffic clogs, so went to a nursing home where a long time friend is confined, now motionless and nearly speechless, with an advanced case of MS, went to dinner with her husband afterward and heard him pour out his agony over this, arrived home approximately 11 1/2 hours after leaving that morning, was just taking out the trash when I heard a soft knock at the front door. Hesitatingly opened it as the porch light is out and saw a very tall man standing there who said, “you don’t remember me, do you?” Over an hour later, I had put this person in touch with our AA facilitator who arranged to pick him up the next morning for a 5:30 am AA group, noted that this had been a divine appointment and full of hope, and prepared to collapse.
Wednesday:In the office early, spent three hours updating the web page, as we no longer have a volunteer webmaster and I’m the only one who understands the complexity of our content management system, touched based with the Worship Director about this Sunday’s worship, realized I had dropped the ball on some Ministry Safe training and got in touch with the person who coordinates that for the church who then offered to help in other ways and I emailed back and said that I really needed a database manager to clean up and maintain our membership database and who then emailed back and said “sign me up” and we arranged for training next week, spent about 75 minutes with a church member with a metastasized lung cancer discussing life and death issues, faith, love, eternal life and earthly plans, and then raced home for lunch around 3:00 pm as there had been no time to eat, fell asleep for about 20 minutes, headed back to the church for our mid-week ministry with children and youth, spent time with four youth who are actively seeking to become disciples of Jesus and emerging as powerful worship leaders. One walked in and said, “I’m going to set this church on fire for Jesus!” Yes, he is. Spent the next hour an a half interacting with children, youth and parents who run this life-changing program, ran off a flyer requesting parents to participate in the child-friendly Ash Wednesday service next week that would close the service, arranged for baptismal instruction for two other families and their six combined children, and recruited a new webmaster and set up a time to train her. A young couple then entered my office for an hour of wonderful pre-marital counseling and preparations for a mid-April wedding. Stumbled home about 11 hours after I left, and my friend from Monday called back and said she had been to her physician’s office that day and finally realized she had simply no functioning immune system right now and did not dare get on a plane or be around me as I am around children so much of the time and am carrying around who knows how many foreign viruses with me. We grieved together. I collapsed into bed.
Went to the office early and spent four hours on Sunday worship, finishing my message, getting it into the presentation program, arranging for the notes page hand-out I’ve been doing each week as a time of response and meditation is built into each service, took a call from someone who needed badly to see me that afternoon, raced out the door to have lunch with and listen carefully to a wise parishioner who wanted to think ahead about her memorial service plans, had a 10 minute breather and the next person showed up and we discussed the fact that her marriage would have to end and how she would go about this. Powerful, emotionally draining, and necessary conversation, prayed with her, reminded her of where I lived in case she needed a safe place for the night, sent her out and just sat there for a few minutes, unable to move. Finally drove home, passing by the church, realizing I just couldn’t go in. Reached home about eight hours after leaving. Am so far past total exhaustion that I can hardly think, so decided just to write up this week.
This is my life.
I am a pastor. On occasion, a very thoughtful pastor. I love God, I love the church and am humbled that I am called into this ministry. I serve a church where one phone call can bring people out in droves to help, where active ministry and discipleship takes place every day of the week, where our passion to reach the littlest and the lost with the grace-filled love of God drives our decisions.
I count myself one of the most privileged persons in the entire world.
And I’m past tired.