Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Feedback received

I preached at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Brandon, Mississippi this past Sunday. I don't always get a lot of feedback from congregation members or even from the pastors for whom I fill in, but Pastor Sawyer sent me the following message yesterday.

I got good reports regarding how things went, but perhaps the best was after chapel today. A little girl of 6 years old - who is also attending my catechesis on Sunday afternoons with her parents - came up to me and said that "he (meaning you) said things a little different, but you both say the same thing."

Now, isn't THAT about as astute as it gets?! I was delighted. I told her mom later, and she was surprised. I'd thought maybe it had been prompted by one of her parents, but apparently not. The girl simply listened to you, and concluded that - despite whatever differences were apparent to her six year old mind - we're saying the same thing. How cool is that!?

I don't think I've ever received a better compliment for my preaching.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Deja vu?

A pastor friend of mine resigned from his congregation. The resignation letter was read to the congregation today. This is sad for any number of reasons. He is a faithful theologian and pastor, always taking care that his theology and his practice are both accurate and loving. He was my father-confessor, and it was very hard to find a good one to begin with. With him resigning, I'm not sure where I'll turn next. He is a good man, and he will succeed at whatever he puts his hand to, but it's sad that, at least for a while, he won't be putting his hand into the guidance of a congregation. The Church needs more men like him.

I'm not going to go into details about why he left, though I will say it wasn't because of ill-will either on his part or on that of the congregation. Nevertheless, it reminded me again of my own resignation and the pain that engendered. Leaving a congregation through resignation is something like going through a divorce: no matter what the reason, you're always leaving something unresolved. It's sort of like that when you take a Call, but less so: you have time to say your goodbyes, time to tie up loose ends, time for your people to get used to the idea. With a resignation, it's just . . . over. I feel bad for him and his family, and I also feel bad for the congregation. They love him, and he loves them, and it's sad that it had to end like this.

Do you ever think about your parents getting old or about something happening to your parents--or, unfortuantely, has something happened to one or both of your parents--and you feel like you've lost something that you'll never get back? That's how I feel today.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Jesus, in mercy bring us to that dear land of rest . . .

Just got an e-mail from a pastor friend of mine whose wife has been fighting cancer for a while now. The fight is nearly over. She's in hospice after a long bout in the ER and ICU, and he's gone home to get some clothes and now he's going back to watch his wife die.

I know where she's going, and I know it's much better. No more tears, no more sadness, no more pain, no more cancer. Eternal joy in the presence of the true and living God. What could be better than that? But I'm sad. I was the one who set Mark and Beth up in the first place. She was the organist at one of the churches I preached in during my fourth year in seminary. He was a young pastor who came to North Dakota a year after me. They met online through an e-mail group, and I received e-mails from each of them within minutes of each other asking, "What do you know about him/her." That was it. And now this.

Beth, the angels are coming to bear you home. Mark, those same angels will comfort you with the knowledge that you will be reunited with her.

And me? I'm going to try to sleep now . . . after I wipe my eyes.

Damn cancer.