Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pastoral moments

Sometimes, being a pastor means being busy: Busy preparing lesson plans, busy making copies, busy collecting materials, busy with meetings, busy updating websites, busy, busy, busy. But sometimes, being a pastor means sharing intimate moments with parishioners. This week held more of those intimate moments than the busy moments. Here are two such intimate experiences.

Tuesday: I took a parishioner to lunch. We'll call him Tom. Tom needs a wheelchair to get around, so going to lunch is always takes more time and energy than simply meeting someone for coffee. On this particular day, we went to lunch and then decided to make a visit to another church member who is in a rehab facility following surgery. We'll call him Bob. While we were there, the Bob told a wonderful story of a Sunday, 20 years ago, when he was ushering and felt frantic, and saw Tom wheeling in the door. Bob asked Tom to help pass out bulletins as folks came in the door. As Bob told this party of the story, he got a bit teary-eyed, and Tom finished his sentence by saying, "And I've been doing that ever since." It was a beautiful moment shared between two old friends, and I had the privilege of witnessing it. Bob promptly told us to get out of there because we were making him cry.

Wednesday: Ash Wednesday. It was my turn to impose the ashes on the foreheads of parishioners and say "Remember, you are dust, and to dust you will return." What a profoundly intimate moment that is, to remind every person there of their earthly mortality, while marking them with the sign of the cross...the cross that both reminds us of the crucifixion of Jesus and his eventual resurrection from the dead. Marking people with mortality and hope for an eternity spent with God. That's powerful stuff.


Stuart Hill said...

Ash Wednesday always makes me think of the letter you wrote to your grandfather and read at the Ash Wednesday service a few years ago. It continues to mean a lot to me, so thanks.