Tag Archive | calling

2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, 2017

2nd Sunday after the Epiphany, year A (preached 1/15/17)

first reading:  Isaiah 49:1-7

Psalm 40:1-11

second reading:  1 Corinthians 1:1-9

gospel reading:  John 1:29-42


Last week as we read about the baptism of Jesus his encounter with John the Baptist was front and center.  This week, we get to hear the declaration of John, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”  But John and Jesus don’t actually speak in our text this morning.  John talks about Jesus, and Jesus talks to others.

When Jesus does speak, he speaks to two of John’s disciples – who based on John’s testimony, decide to “check Jesus out.”  It’s THIS encounter I want to focus on this morning.

John was with two of his disciples when they saw Jesus.  John again called Jesus the “Lamb of God.”  As a result, those two disciples followed Jesus.  Jesus sees these two following him, so he asks, “What are you looking for?”

Instead of answering Jesus, they ask him a question in return:  “Where are you staying?”  At this Jesus answers, “Come and see.”

Jesus’ question “What are you looking for?” and moments later, his answer to them, “Come and see,” form the foundation of what it means to be a disciple of Christ.

Each one of us can be asked, as we walk through these doors on a Sunday morning, “What are you looking for?”  The question is a good one.  It get to the heart of why we’re here.  How many of us, me included, have Sundays when we get up, get dressed, get in the car, pull in the parking lot and plant ourselves in the pew, without thinking “Why?” or “What for?”

What ARE we looking for when we follow Jesus?  What ARE we looking for when we worship?

artist unknown

artist unknown

And when we really think about it, is what we’re looking for what we actually find?  Is the Jesus of our dreams the Jesus of reality?

I think sometimes not.  I think sometimes we expect Jesus to be a lot more “macho.”  I think sometimes we expect Jesus to be a lot more “successful.”  And when I say “we” I’m not just talking about you and me, I’m talking about Christians everywhere and throughout history.

Sure, we DO have a vision of Jesus victorious over the cross, the King of heaven, the one who we confess shall come again to judge the living and the dead.  But he is also the same God/man who walked and talked, ate, slept, cried and died.

Jesus is no superman or Rambo.  He didn’t come to earth to beat other people down, or to give us earthly riches, power or prestige.  As one of my former pastors used to say, “God is not our heavenly Santa Claus.”

Ethiopian - artist unknown

Ethiopian – artist unknown

Jesus ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father, only AFTER being betrayed, beaten and killed on the cross.   Jesus is the God/man who DIDN’T save himself – and by NOT doing so, has saved each one of us.

So… if we follow him or come to worship so we can be powerful or successful or find answers to every question we have in life, we will NOT find what we’re looking for.

But…

if we’re looking for a savior who can carry us, who will be our companion and strength and guide through all of life, whether we succeed or fail;

if we’re looking for a savior who will gift us with heaven despite our sin and failures, who has prepared a place for us not because we deserve it, but because he is LOVE;

if we’re looking for a place to gather where we can be accepted as a saved sinner/saint, and accept others as the same…

well then – to that Jesus says, “Come and see.”  This is discipleship in a nutshell.

Jesus said, “Come and see,” and those two men “came and saw.”  And once they “came and saw” they started to witness, “We have found the Messiah.”

Following Jesus, being a disciple, is as simple and as hard as that.  We follow, we see, and we witness to what we have seen.

Scholar Robert Kysar highlights this order.  “The risk of the journey (come) necessarily precedes the experience of seeing.”¹  It’s true.  We who follow Jesus ARE on a journey – a journey of faith where we don’t know what’s around the corner, even if we DO know the ultimate destination.

We come along for the ride with this savior, not knowing exactly where we’re going or what will happen. We often can’t see where God has been working in our lives to get us through things, how we got from point “A” to “B” until we get to point “C.”  Discipleship is an amazing act of trust given to us through faith.

Following – being a disciple – coming and seeing, then leads to witness.

Andrew (one of the men who “came and saw”) responded by searching out and saying to his brother, “We have found the Messiah,” and then “brought [him] to Jesus.”  Our calling as disciples, once we have come and seen, is to give that invitation to others.

We hear “come and see.”  So, we “come, and see.”  Then we tell others to “come and see.”

No matter what our station in life, our mission as disciples is the same.  Tomorrow we will honor The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.   A man of courage, who preached the love and JUSTICE of Jesus, who knew his life was constantly in danger and yet kept preaching Jesus’ gospel of equality and loving neighbor anyway.  Today we read about the call of some of the first disciples, who would also preach to many, and whose testimony we still hear.

Thousands heard their words – yet our call – yours and mine – is the same as theirs.  We may not have the audience or the influence they did and still do, but our call is just as important as theirs.

It is the call of the disciple who preaches to hundreds as well as the disciple who shares with just one – telling the love and forgiveness of Jesus for every person –

“We have found the Messiah.”

“Come and see.”

AMEN.

Word and Sacrament

In the year 1995 my life changed utterly in two ways.  First, I started the year by getting married – certainly a milestone in any life.  Six months after that I began my journey on a path to which the Lord was calling me, and to which God still calls me twenty years later.  TODAY is the 2oth anniversary of my ordination to Word and Sacrament Ministry.  On June 25, 1995, through prayer and the laying on of hands, I became a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, set apart to preach God’s Word and administer the sacraments.  I’m doing some BIG pastoral pondering on that event today.

In the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America), the normal course to ordination is to graduate from seminary with a Master of Divinity degree (a 4 year program), then receive a “call” from a congregation.  There is the call to ministry, but a person must also receive a “call” from a specific congregation in order to be ordained.  I obviously cannot underestimate the value of the academic education I received at seminary, but I also cannot underestimate the value of the friendships I made there, the relationships I continue to hold dear and that carry me daily through my ministry.  While at seminary I met my husband and the woman who is godmother to all three of my children!

seminary graduation, May 1994

seminary graduation, May 1994

Graduation from seminary was truly a celebration, four years of hard work rewarded, except for one minor detail.  While the Church affirmed my call to ordained ministry, I had no call to a congregation.  I had no job.  In the ELCA candidates are assigned to a synod (geographic area) and are placed in the care of a bishop whose responsibility it is to find them a congregation to serve.  Many times candidates graduate from seminary with their congregations ready and waiting for them.  But not me.  I had gotten pretty far in the process for a position, but in my second interview, my attendance at a certain “women’s conference” came up.  It led some people on the committee to believe that I was some kind of radical feminist man-hater, God-the-Father denier and Jesus’ resurrection doubter.  It didn’t feel like an interview – it felt more like a trial.

It seemed like they couldn’t comprehend that a person can listen to a lecture at an academic conference and not agree with everything said.  To them, attendance meant agreement.  The idea that one can listen and learn about a different point of view, without subscribing to it, didn’t make sense to them.  Sadly, this thinking is still far too true 20 years later – just look at the lack of political, social and religious discourse in our society.  The committee was split evenly between those who wanted to proceed with me and those who wanted to end the process. In the synod to which I belong that’s a deal breaker.

Ordination - June 25, 1995 - with the bishop who ordained me, The Rev. E. Roy Riley, Jr.

Ordination – June 25, 1995 – with the bishop who ordained me, The Rev. E. Roy Riley, Jr.

My bishop even went and met with this committee PERSONALLY to try to sway them, but to no avail.   In the Lutheran Church a bishop cannot force a pastor on a congregation.  So my call process was dead.  Back to square one.  To his credit my bishop refused to present this church with another pastoral candidate – instead he assigned them interns for two years – the first intern was a man who was probably more of a feminist than me, and the second a woman who had attended the very same conference they found objectionable!  That bishop (now retired) will always have a special place in my heart for this, and also because a few years later he was a supportive presence for my husband and me while we went through a very frightening period medically with our second child.

But I still had no job, no way to financially support myself.  I had to find a job to “bide my time” till another appropriate church became open. In stepped a dear friend, whose husband happened to need a social worker as a full-time temporary replacement for an employee on medical leave.  God provides.  I was able to put my social work bachelor’s degree and experience to use, and make enough money to eat and afford a tiny three room third floor apartment.  Long story short, it took a year to find the right “fit” for me.  I graduated from seminary in May of 1994, and was ordained on June 25, 1995.

The twenty years since have seen me go from full-time ministry, to “on leave” (aka no congregational call), to VERY part-time, on leave again, and another very part-time call (my current congregational call).  This see-sawing has been due to my choice to be as much of a stay-at-home mom to my children as I possibly can, while still staying involved in preaching and pastoral duties.  Even when I was “on leave” I was still constantly preaching and helping out local congregations.  The congregation I serve now is quite small and doesn’t have great pastoral time demands due to their size, so the situation has worked out well for them and for me.

ordination - June 25, 1995

ordination – June 25, 1995

I am most certainly not the same person who knelt for the laying on of hands twenty years ago.  Since I received my stole I have given birth to three children, lived through an autism diagnosis for one of them, mourned the deaths of my father and both of my in-laws, been through the “better and worse” of marriage, and felt my call tested.  Sometimes I’ve felt out of the loop in my synod because of my “very part time” status, and the fact that I’m limited in how I can participate in synod meetings because of time and travel.  Thankfully, since I began using social media I’m getting to know new colleagues, keeping up better with synod and national Church events, and making wider connections with pastors and church leaders all over the country – this has helped immensely!

It’s been quite a journey.  Each one of us is called by God to certain paths, to use the gifts God has given us to serve the Church and the world.  For me, it is Word and Sacrament.  For the past twenty years I have been honored to hold this office in the Church, humbled constantly by people’s trust in me as their pastor, grateful for the walk I have walked with them through the joy, celebration, sadness, worry, anxiety and sorrow in their lives.  And the center of it all, of all our journeys individually and together – is God.

To God alone be the glory.  Soli Deo Gloria.

3rd Sunday of Easter, 2015

3rd Sunday of Easter, year B, 2015 (preached 4/19/15)

first reading:  Acts 3:12-19

Psalm 4

second reading:  1 John 3:1-7

gospel reading:  Luke 24:36b-48


The days after Easter must have been chaotic and troubling for Jesus’ followers.  We have several accounts like last week’s and today’s readings, where the presence of the resurrected Jesus among the disciples cause fear and doubt and confusion.

We can only imagine how they must have felt.  How would YOU feel if someone you loved and believed dead suddenly appeared before you?

Some of us might be convinced that we had gone MAD – others that we must have eaten or smoked something funny, other, that we must be dreaming, and other might believe we were seeing an angel or a ghost.

We’ve had movies and tv shows with these kinds of storylines – remember “The Ghost and Mrs. Muir,” “Touched by an Angel,” “Ghost,” and “Highway to Heaven?”

But this was no angel, no apparition.  This was a dead man come back to life, and we read the disciples were “startled” and “terrified.”  Jesus understood that he needed to show his followers he wasn’t a ghost or an angel.  He needed to show them that he was real flesh and blood.  And how did he do this? He ATE.

The One who had shared the Passover with his disciples as a farewell meal, was now joining them in everyday food!

But Jesus intended more than simply proving that he was a real LIVE person.  He began to tell them again the purpose of him being human in the first place.  And the end of his work on earth, Jesus was now bringing the disciples to the place where they would begin their work.

We read in verses 45-47:  “Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.'”

In this statement, Jesus highlights three important things.

  • First, that he IS the Messiah, and that his death and resurrection are not only real, but also the way God is bringing healing and reconciliation to the earth.

Jesus was a real man, died a real death for you and me, and was resurrected.  Through his sacrifice we are made part of God’s family – as we read in the first letter of John today – we are God’s children, and brothers and sisters of one another.

  • The second point Jesus makes is that repentance and forgiveness of sins are to be proclaimed.

This would be a new twist on an old theme.  The disciples knew the Jewish practice of calling for repentance.  We have good examples of this all through the Old Testament prophets through John the Baptist.  But Jesus had the authority to do more than just preach repentance – he proclaimed FORGIVENESS.

Now that Jesus is risen, repentance and forgiveness will always go together, and God’s forgiveness becomes the pivotal piece of a disciple’s proclamation.

  • Thirdly, Jesus tells us that this word, HIS word, is to go to all nations.

The word of repentance and forgiveness, Jesus’ act on the cross, does not belong only to the Hebrew nation, even if it begins there.  There is no birthright involved or at stake.  The word about Jesus, and what God has done for us through Jesus goes out to all people – of every race and nationality, every age, every economic and social class.  The message of the gospel is for EVERYONE.

Jesus proclaimed the gospel of God’s love – of repentance and forgiveness, throughout his earthly ministry. The distinction that is made after the resurrection, is that the Word Jesus brought, the Word Jesus IS, and its proclamation, now belongs to his followers – YOU and ME.

At first it was Jesus’ work, but after his resurrection and ascension, he passed on that work to all of us who follow him. Jesus became human like us, died and rose for us, so that the Word of God could be proclaimed IN, AMONG, and FROM the people of God.

Jesus wants us not only to love him, but also to love each other.  God wants people not only to repent, but to know that they’re forgiven.

Now, I would bet that the average Christian doesn’t necessarily think of him or herself as a proclaimer.  But Jesus makes it clear in this passage that the work of proclaiming belongs to all those who follow him.  We have the gift of salvation, not to hoard it or keep it to ourselves, but so that we may share it with others.  And we are made proclaimers through gift of Holy Baptism.

But what does it mean to be a proclaimer?

Many people think, “Sunday sermon,” or “pastor’s job.”  And that’s true, but that’s only one kind of proclaiming.  You and I proclaim God in countless ways everyday.

When a neighbor is helped – in a soup kitchen or food pantry, by a nail hammered in home repair, a ride to the doctor, a kind word for a young mom or dad struggling with a toddler at the grocery store, standing with someone being bullied, praying for the sick, giving a much needed hug – the list goes on and on.

This is proclaiming Jesus’ love through our actions.  A saying attributed to St. Francis goes something like: “Proclaim the gospel, when necessary use words.”

But there are also words – when we share how much God has done for us, how much Jesus’ love impacts our lives – you don’t need a fancy theological degree to do that!

In this Easter season, may we all be moved by Jesus’ love for us, and also moved by his words to us today:  “that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations…”

AMEN.

 

8th Sunday after Pentecost, 2014

8th Sunday after Pentecost, year A, 2014 (preached August 3, 2014)

first reading:  Isaiah 55:1-5

Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21

second reading:  Romans 9:1-5

gospel reading:  Matthew 14:13-21


In three of our four passages from scripture today we read about banquets, feasts and miracles.

As human beings we may have a “higher consciousness” but when we look at the reality of our needs, we’re still animals.  Still creatures of the Creator.  Without food to eat and water to drink we die.  It’s that simple.  Along with breathing, they are some of the basic needs of life.

In our reading from Isaiah, the feast is spiritual in nature.  He speaks to both the hungry, and those how are well-fed but really starving for something greater.

In our Psalm, which is attributed to David, we hear, “The eyes of all wait upon you, O Lord, and you give them their food in due season.  You open wide your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”

Our gospel reading tells us about one of the most famous miracles of Jesus.  A miracle feast, the feeding of the five thousand plus (I say “plus,” because it was five thousand MEN, “besides women and children.”)  Who knows how many were fed when you add in those women and children!

Because hunger and thirst are two of our most basic needs of life, they hold great power for us – so it makes wonderful and perfect sense that God would use both the image and reality of food and drink to explore our relationship with one another, and with God’s self.

Basically, what these passages offer to us is this – GOD PROVIDES.

The image AND the reality are that God is able to provide for our needs, and gives US the ability to provide for each other in God’s name.

In Isaiah God reminds us that we need food – both literally AND figuratively, to survive and thrive.  Eat your veggies, but don’t forget to feast on the WORD.  Gulp down that water, but don’t forget to drink in God’s love.  God reminds us that “spiritual” food is just as important for our survival as our fruits and vegetables.

This food is free, this food never runs out, this food is a great banquet – this food can be had for NO money!  “…You that have no money, come, buy and eat!”  As my Great Aunt Helen used to call us to the table, “Come and get it!”

Why is there no currency involved?  Because THIS is food that fills our hearts and souls.  That’s why God also lovingly challenges us in these words to keep our priorities in order.  “Why do you spend your money for that which is NOT bread, and your labor for that which does NOT satisfy?”

We human beings are often consumed by the desire for “stuff.”  We think more “things” will make us happy.  We work SO hard for money or power or prestige that can be snatched away on the whims of banks or stock markets or downsizing.  God says, “Listen CAREFULLY to ME, and eat what is GOOD….  Incline your ear, and come to ME; listen, so that you may live.”

Our faith, God’s love for us, is something that no one can EVER take away.  It will NOT disappear on the whim of some corporate stranger.  It will stay with us long after all our earthly pleasures and strength have faded away.

This “rich food” is God’s relationship with us – God beckons to us, the feast is waiting.  God provides for our true needs.

Our gospel reading presents the “other side” of providing.

God provides our spiritual food and drink, but God also call us to provide REAL food for one another, and shows us the way in Jesus.  Jesus shows us listening to God’s Word also needs to be accompanied by action.  I’ve said this many times before, but “love” is a verb because love is an action.  Put your money where your mouth is.

Jesus leads by example.  When it’s getting late in the day and the disciples want to send the people away to fend for themselves Jesus says no.  And not only does Jesus say no, he says, “YOU give them something to eat.”  And when they make the excuse that their stock of food is measly, Jesus said, “Bring them here to me” and makes a miracle happen.

Now, you and I are obviously not Jesus.  “I” can’t stand here and “poof” feed 5,000 plus people with five loaves and two fish.  Yet Jesus tells us repeatedly that our calling is to “love one another,” care for the poor, and “feed my sheep.”

We get our spiritual food, our spiritual strength, from God’s relationship with us:  from hearing God’s Word, reading God’s Word, receiving the sacraments, prayer, and worship, and in sharing in community life through the Church.

God provides.  God provides the spiritual food that gives us strength that can never be taken away.  But then, through YOU and ME God provides physical, literal food so that none need go hungry.  Jesus says to you and me, “YOU give them something to eat.”

Sometimes people will ask me, “How can you believe in God when there are children starving in the world?”  My answer is that starving people are NOT God’s doing – it’s OUR doing – OUR sin.  There is enough food in the world for everyone.  Gluttony is just as prevalent as real hunger.  Our challenge is to be able to share – to let go.

Jesus calls us to be a community that cares for each other, that LOVES each other, in word AND deed.  WE are God’s hands and feet in this world, called to share Jesus’ love and feed his sheep – in our towns and all over the world.

God provides for our needs, and gives US the ability to provide for each other in God’s name.

We give to God what we might think is a measly offering, but then God provides a miracle – and ALL are fed – in more ways than one.

AMEN.

6th Sunday after Pentecost, 2014

6th Sunday after Pentecost, year A, 2014 (preached July 20, 2014)

first reading: Isaiah 44:6-8

Psalm 86:11-17

second reading:  Romans 8:12-25

gospel reading:  Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43


In our gospel reading this morning, Jesus offers us a parable about the Kingdom of heaven.  In fact, all of chapter 13 in Matthew is devoted to parables that tell us what the Kingdom of heaven is like.

Last week in worship we read the parable of the sower who sows seed in different types of soil.  After our gospel passage for today we find other classic parables of Jesus such as the mustard seed and the pearl of great price.  Each of these parables tell us something different about the Kingdom – the character of God, the roles we play, and today, about the presence of evil and our response.

A person might read today’s parable and be worried about whether they’re wheat or weeds.  No one wants to be thrown into the furnace of fire.  We all hope that we’re the wheat that will be gathered into the barn.

But when we spend our time worrying about that, we miss the point of the parable.  We miss what Jesus is trying to teach us.

What Jesus is explaining in the parable is the reality of evil, and the reason God allows it to exist alongside faith.  Just like the parable of the sower last week was more about the character of God the sower than the different types of soil, today’s parable is also about the character of the sower.

The question our parable answers is NOT, “Am I wheat or weed?”  The question it answers is, “Why is there evil in the world?”  The question it answers is, “Why doesn’t God get rid of it all?”

wheat and taresAnd here it is.  We find it in the response the sower gives the slaves (servants) when they ask if he wants them to go out and gather the weeds.  He replies, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them.  Let both of them grow together until the harvest…”

God loves each of us SO deeply, so completely, that God is unwilling to suffer the loss of even the smallest speck of wheat in the process of separating out the weeds.  With Jesus, collateral damage is utterly unacceptable.

This parable is good news for us in two ways.  Number one, as wheat, we don’t have to worry that we’ll end up being destroyed unintentionally.  We all have a place in the barn.

Number two is a bit more subtle.  When we look at the parable Jesus clearly explains all the characters involved – but NOT the slaves (or servants) of the sower/householder.  Curious.  Who could the servants be?  Well, I think WE are them TOO.

It makes sense, because as children of God, as disciples of Christ, we ARE called to work for him, to serve him in the world and to serve each other, bring others to faith, to be a community of growth and nourishment where faith can flourish.

This is good news because it means we don’t have to worry about being judge and jury for other people.  When the slaves as the householder, “Do you want us to go and gather” the weeds – he says no, and later explains the reaping is the job of the angels.

There are a lot of people in our world, a lot of believers in Jesus, who think their job is to be the reapers.  Individuals and groups who almost take joy in proclaiming who they are SURE is going to heaven and who’s going to hell.  People like those who belong to a certain church group that picket funerals proclaiming God’s judgment, for example.  People who seem to get some perverse pleasure in pointing out how others are going to hell, while they of course are headed for heaven.

Sometimes when people find out I’m a pastor they ask me questions about this very thing.  I’m happy to answer them, “That’s not my job.”  THAT job doesn’t belong to any of us.

Looking at the field, knowing what’s wheat and what’s weed, focusing on weed-pulling, that’s not the work Jesus has for us.  He tells us the harvesting and sorting is the job of the reapers, and the reapers are the angels.  The job of the servants is to care for the land and the crop, to “Let both of them grow together until the harvest…”

The householder/sower tells the servants to concentrate on the wheat.  After all, wasn’t that the purpose of the planting?  We are NOT in the business of weed-pulling.  Our business is wheat-growing.

Wheat growing means proclaiming God’s love – offering on another the food that will nourish our souls – not weed killer.  Wheat growing means showing compassion and kindness, wheat growing is letting others see the love of Jesus shine through us.  Wheat growing is telling those who feel or even act unlovable that Jesus loves them all the way to the cross.

Wheat growing also means praying, not just for those who think “deserve” our prayers, but praying for the weeds too.  After all, Jesus told us to pray for our enemies and to bless those who curse us. (Matt. 5:43)

Wheat growing is opening the Church to all those who seek to know God and experience God’s love.  Wheat growing is taking the time to nurture our OWN faith, to feed and water it so it can grow and flourish in us.  Taking the time to pray and worship, time with scripture and treasuring the sacraments.

Wheat and weeds grow together.  That is the reality of our life.  The presence of evil is NOT a sign of God’s displeasure, but of God’s overwhelming love.

Right now it’s our task, our call, to be the best wheat and the best servants we can be – and leave the rest to God.

AMEN.

Everyone’s Pastor

photo(11)When I was ordained almost 20 years ago, I was ordained to serve a specific congregation.  A pastor, however, is NOT just a pastor to one particular group of people in a particular place – when one is ordained, one is also ordained as a pastor of the Church.  That’s Church with a capital “C” – the universal Church.  I serve a congregation, but I also serve the Church, which is everywhere and everyone.

This week I was contacted out of the blue by a woman who is battling leukemia, but it appears she is losing.  She doesn’t belong to a congregation.  It’s been a while since she’s been to church.  But she is baptized, was raised Lutheran, went to a Lutheran school, and feels Lutheran at her core, so she sought out a Lutheran pastor and found me.

She’s afraid.  She has questions.  She has doubts.  She wants to live, but wants to plan her funeral.  She is weak and immune compromised and cannot leave her house, so she asked if I would come and speak with her.  I don’t know her.  She is not a member of the congregation I serve.  She is not a member of ANY congregation.  What do I do?  I go and visit because as a pastor of the Church with a capital “C” I AM her pastor.

Sometimes pastors can lose sight of the fact that we’re not just called to a congregation, or a synod (or diocese) or even a national denomination – but the people – ALL the people, in our buildings and out of our buildings.  This means we get calls from funeral homes to officiate funerals for folks we don’t know, who for whatever reason want a Christian funeral even though they didn’t belong to a congregation.  It means if we’re in public wearing the “collar” we can get stopped by anyone who wants to talk about anything – complaints about religion, questions about faith, even outright confessions.  I’ve run into all of these experiences in my almost 20 years in the ordained ministry.  It is part of the profound honor of serving Christ in the ministry of Word and Sacrament.

I will be visiting with her again, because now, even though we only met this week, I am her pastor.

 

***Of course, all the baptized (not just pastors) are called to minister to one another.  Each one of us is called through baptism to offer support, comfort and the Word of the gospel to those we meet.  But there are times in a person’s life when they desire someone to provide counsel, spiritual guidance, the comfort of the sacraments, and the confidentiality that the office of pastor brings.