Sometimes a pastor’s “work” takes them out of the office and to a place that looks like a place of rest. For this pastor, my “work” has taken me to my favorite coffee shop…
Reading some Charles Spurgeon and Jonathan Edwards
And yes, staring out the front window [and now typing this]
My original “work” was to get away and peacefully read but a stirring changed the course of this pastor’s “work”.
The spontaneous writing of this reflection was due to a stirring in my heart to pray. I wasn’t stirred to pray for world peace or to find a cure for cancer. No, nothing like that. I was stirred to pray for two unknown people across the way standing in an employment agency. I have no clue who they are and probably never will. I have no clue what their situation is or what brought them to that place. All I know is that a prayer was prayed for them.
And this pastor probably will never know the fruit of this “work” but that’s OK. Sometimes the Spirit stirs and we know not why. And because I can’t quantify this “work” some may think I wasted my time or the church’s time.
But this was far from a waste of time. Not for those two people.
The Spirit stirring means important “work” needs to be done. And the joy of this “work” is that it’s not my “work”.
So I wrap this up and prepare to do some “traditional work” now and I look forward to more stirrings. But please don’t think I was lazy and please don’t praise my efforts.
This wasn’t my idea. I was stirred.
All praise be to God.
The Pastor -|—
One of the joys of serving at a church for as long as I have (10 1/2 years) is that you get to see kids grow up. I have a confirmation student, that as a preschooler, used to hide behind her mom’s leg because she was scared of me. Now she is a spiritually mature confirmation student that babysits my children. I have a crop of 5th graders that will be starting confirmation in the fall as 6th graders. This group contains some of the kids I baptized when I first arrived, including my first baptism.
But last night things hit me a little harder when I attended our local high school’s Winter Fest coronation. A young lady voted to serve as the 10th grade representative in the royal court is a former confirmation and release time student of mine. She looked so grown up last night in her formal dress and her hair all done up. And I found myself wondering how this was possible since it seems like just last year she was one of my 3rd grade release time students.
Wow, where has the time gone?
And then I started to think again about those 5th graders starting confirmation in the fall…
Didn’t I just baptize them?
Don’t get me wrong, I can hardly wait until that 5th class starts this next phase in their faith journey. And I am thrilled to see this 10th grade student of mine grow up, but I can’t help but have conflicting feelings about the passage of time. The good ole days always yields to new, uncharted days; neither good or bad ~ yet.
Part of me wants to turn back time (if I actually could) and prevent these kids from growing up and cling to the good ole days. But to do that would mean losing who these kids have become and who I have become today because of them. Watching these kids grow up has had a big impact on my life. I have learned a lot about my own faith through their questions and searching; questions that only a child-like faith can ask. I have seen these kids grow from standing up in the pew during the offering (one of my 5th graders did this when she was 3 or 4) and shouting, Pastor Eric, I got your money! to wanting to pray for an individual during release time. These kids have grown up and in so many ways. So maybe this is not a bad thing. Maybe I just need to reign in these conflicting emotions and “let them”grow up.
The life of a pastor is filled with so many joys and sorrows; ups and downs; major life moments; and the list goes on. It’s all part of the calling. It’s all part of serving in a congregation for “long time”. It’s all part of the passage of time. The good ole days can’t stay the good ole days forever. They need to yield to a new set of days so they too have a chance to become the good ole days for someone else, maybe even me.
So I praise God that He has allowed me to experience these conflicting emotions. May God grant me what I need to savor the good ole days and welcome the new ones that are coming. May God bless the days that are coming that they may become new good ole days. And I thank God that He has given me these days to enjoy with these kids and I look forward to many more.
And by the grace of God may I continue to grow up as well.
One of the many joys for me as a pastor is seeing God create something out of nothing. No, I am not talking about anything magical here but rather the Holy Spirit bringing about a sermon when I had nothing.
Often times I enter Thursday not knowing where I am going with a sermon. I know the text, since I am preaching through the Gospel of Mark, but I don’t always know what the message is. And there are many times when I am anxious about this even though I know I shouldn’t be; even though I know I should trust God.
Today was such a day.
I did my reading and note taking before “relocating my office” to my favorite coffee shop down town. I do this every Thursday (for the most part) and at the same time. I set up my computer, ordered my lunch to be brought to me at 11 AM, got my coffee and scotcheroo and off to work I went. This is my routine.
As I started writing I noticed that my fingers started flowing across the keyboard faster and faster and with purpose. The message started to materialize in front of me like a Star Trek transporter. And as the message became clear I got more and more excited and felt more and more guilty. I was excited as the Spirit was working through me to create this message but guilty that I didn’t trust God enough to not be anxious about it. I have been a pastor for 10 1/2+ years and God has not let me down. Every Sunday I was scheduled to preached, I preached a sermon. Never once did I show up on a Sunday morning with nothing.
And God does this in other ways in our lives; creates something out of nothing:
~ Opportunities to share our faith
~ Opportunities to serve one another
~ Faith where there was no faith
~ Purpose where there was hopelessness
~ Life where there was death
If only I had the faith to see this more often.
Oh God, increase my faith and sharpen my eyes to see you at work in this world.
Praise be to God!
The Pastor -|—
I must admit…this new daddy role has taken some getting used to but it is sinking in more and more with each passing day. There are many things I knew would change and others I didn’t know exactly how they would change. I guess that just goes with the territory. I keep learning and keep adjusting. Eventually I will develop the illusion that I know what I am doing :-)
One of the big things I have been trying to get use to is working from home. The congregation gave me the gift of working from home during the month of May so I could spend more time bonding with Mayah. A couple days a week (when my wife is home) I do go into the office.
When this schedule first started I got a little frustrated because I didn’t anticipate how difficult this working from home would be. I had big plans on how much I was going to get done while Mayah was sleeping.
The biggest problem was that I didn’t plan very well; so the first couple days at home not much work got done. Now…I have planned my week out better and have set more realistic expectations for myself. I have also adjusted my hours so I can get done everything that is expected of me by others and myself.
Wednesday was worship prep and sermon prep day from home. I planned worship for Sunday and did some sermon prep reading and research. Today (Thursday) I am home again but this time I will be fully ready to write the sermon while Mayah is sleeping…despite the fact I didn’t get much sleep last night. Oh well…that’s what coffee is for.
So here we go…another day at home bonding with my little girl and doing ministry here in Jackson. The best of both worlds.
The pastor/new daddy -|—
I need to start writing again. It’s funny how I always seem to be drawn back. Not that I am trying to get away but I had felt I had nothing more to say after 6 years of posting here.
…I have felt that God is not done with me yet. So stand (or sit) by…
This picture was taken while I was “working” :)
I went to visit a parishioner living in one of our local nursing homes the other day. Directly outside his window was this scene.
When I arrived in his room we greeted one another and he said to me that he was watching “God’s little creatures“. I sat down and started watching as well. We spent time watching these little birds dance around the feeders. Red finches showed up, a couple sparrows and some other birds that I couldn’t identify. They seemed to be playing and fighting for room. It was quite a scene. Birds would get chased away but would quickly return to “play”.
Between bird feeder observations, Dave and I chatted about the “important” things of life. But really…it was hard to focus on those “important” things while watching the play unfold outside the window. At that moment “God’s little creatures” were the “important” things.
And that was fine with Dave and me :)
At first these little creatures were shy when I tried to snap their picture. As soon as I would move the little theater outside the window would clear out, but eventually they warmed up to me…hence the picture. Maybe they perceived me as a fellow creature of God (at least that is what I am going to go with). Whatever the case…more and more birds showed up…all feeling comfortable being on stage.
Eventually it was time to leave. Dave and I shook hands, I took one more glance at the scene outside the window and I said good bye; thanking them for their performance.
And this, my friends, is what I call “work”…enjoying God’s creatures big and small :)
Praise be to God!