We were done with Sunday worship and had taken a nap. My husband and I decided to take a short jaunt over to a nearby antique mall to see what they had to offer. While on the road, my cell phone rang. It was a woman from our congregation, letting me now that her husband of 54 years had just died. He had suffered from a rare degenerative disease for the past few years. He died on his birthday.
This is my day off, but I made a little time to meet with the woman whose husband had just died. We planned his memorial service for the next Monday. His family told me he loved to try to figure things out (he had been an electrical engineer). They also told me that he donated his body to the University, so that they could study his condition and perhaps, someday, cure people who had his disease.
I had a memorial service for a woman I knew from a monthly communion service I used to do at a local high-rise. Her daughter told me that her mom "talked about me all the time." She also told me that her mother was 100% Lutheran and 100% Norwegian. She wrote a wonderful remembrance for her mother that called to mind her childhood in rural Minnesota. She was poor, but didn't seem to mind. After the short service, we had lefse, kringla, sandbakkels and krumkaka.
We also got news that a woman I had visited on Saturday died early on Tuesday morning. The other pastor went to visit with the family. They wanted a funeral service on Friday morning.
I visited another older gentleman in the hospital. He had just gotten news about his cancer. We had a wonderful visit, though he cried, a little. He was grateful for his family. We prayed together.
In the afternoon, I sat in with the other pastor while he planned the Friday service. They had a first wanted me to do the service for them, but I was preaching, planning another funeral and presiding at a wedding on Saturday.
Later we had a wonderful meeting with our Stewardship planning group. There is so much creativity, commitment and energy in this group. What did I contribute? I remembered the rationale for making out pledges on Commitment Sunday, not before: because we wanted to make our gifts together in community, in worship and in prayer.
I wrote the sermon for my Saturday wedding.
In the evening, there was a visitation for the woman who had died on Tuesday. Toward the end of the evening, I gathered everyone together for some scripture readings and prayers. I invited people to share some memories and stories. At the close, we sang two choruses of this old song, "All Night, All Day, Angels watching over me, my Lord, All Night, All Day, Angels watching over me."
I worked on bulletin proof-reading with our secretary, and went away to try to write my Sunday sermon. I got some done, but not as much as I had hoped. For some reason, I was having trouble putting it all together.
The wedding at at 3:00. The bride cried. Our small chapel service was at 5:00, the "first run" of the weekend. After the service I went out and bought some yarn for the children's message. (and hoped that the idea would work)
I preached. Christian Community, rooted in baptism. So close to an election, remember that we are not united by politics, but by God's grace. We sang "A Mighty Fortress", and "Shout to the Lord." I thought about how mighty our God is, mighty and vulnerable, dying on a cross.
A tattooed young woman came up to me before the service and said, "thank you for visiting my grandfather in the hospital." She had tears in her eyes. I saw a two-year-old dressed up in her Halloween costume. She was a bumble-bee.
Afterwards, we had our annual Sunday School Fundraiser: a spaghetti dinner. A little later I was getting ready to go home, laden with left-over spaghetti for my husband's lunch. Two little girls (about 4 years old) walked up to me gravely and presented me with: my glasses, which I had left on a table in the Fellowship Hall. "Are these yours, Pastor?" they said.
I am tired. It's a privilege to know people, to receive ministry from grave four-year-olds who find what I have lost, to be present when tears of joy or grief are shed, to sing and remember and hear stories.
Some days I am lost. And it is the four year olds who find me, and help me to see again.