Serving, at the Waning of the Year

A Year of Being Kind blog – Tuesday, November 25, 2014

autumn candles

Serving, at the Waning of the Year

As I sat in my office, I was surprised by a sudden telephone call. I was asked to officiate at a funeral service, with very short notice.

I was happy to be able to do it. To have the opportunity to do it. And, it also was another opportunity to be of service. To use my multifaceted training and abilities, and to come alongside of these dear people who mourn.

Just as 1 Peter 4:10 says, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” I not only have received the spiritual gifts of encouragement, mercy, pastor/teacher, and helps, I also have chaplain training, and Clinical Pastoral Care. I stepped up to the plate, and I offered what I could to the loved ones who mourned. I pray for them, and hope that God is with them in this special, tender, painful time.

Yes, I cried today. Not only did I observe a family in the midst of a memorable experience, I felt with them. I saw them grieve. And, I pray that I was able to be a comfort and a support for them.

I keep coming back to this, again and again. With the waning of the year. Just as I mentioned last week. Taking stock, as in Psalm 90:12. The psalmist calls us all to “number our days.” I thought of this dear person who died several days ago. Even though I didn’t mention this verse at the funeral, I thought of it, to myself. I considered both the end of the year as well as the end of a long life. Gathering in the harvest, taking an inventory, reckoning up the deeds done for God.

We are about to begin the circle of the liturgical year, again, with the beginning of Advent. Yes, I can prepare myself to say “Come quickly, Lord Jesus!” Yet, I am not quite ready. Yes, I acted as a chaplain today, and used my pastoral care gifts and skills. Thank God I have them! But, Advent isn’t here, yet. I’m not quite there yet.

Soon. I am still at the point of numbering my days. Soon enough, I’ll be thankful. (Tomorrow, in fact.) And then, soon enough, the time of preparation, of Advent. But not yet. Soon.


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Who, Me? Serve?

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, November 12, 2014

SERVE as each receives a gift, serve 1 Peter 4  10

Who, Me? Serve?

I’ve been doing this being-kind-thing pretty much daily now for more than ten months. This is the eleventh month, can you believe it? And still, in the morning, I occasionally wake up with the barely-formed intention, “Who, me? Serve? You’ve got to be kidding . . . “

And yet, I find myself in similar positions on a regular basis. I mean, helping positions. Ways of being kind. Situations where I naturally fall into ways to be of service. I mean, using my gifts. I am going to help officiate at a funeral service this weekend. And, I am using not only the gifts and graces I have been given and have developed in the past years, but I am also playing the piano. And, I am so, so happy to have been asked.

Here’s the verse I chose for November – 1 Peter 4:10 “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.”

I haven’t been playing the piano very much lately. I mean, in the past few months. I just haven’t been, that’s all. So, I really appreciate the relatives of the dear senior who died to ask whether I might be able to play. As well as officiate. Actually, co-officiate. My good friend and fellow pastor will be preaching, but I will be doing just about everything else.

Let me come back to playing the piano. I’ve been doing that for decades. Literally. Piano playing was one gift I had that was obvious to everyone, even as a teenager. I became one of the accompanists for the mixed chorus at my high school. I accompanied off and on, into my twenties. And then, I started to flex my leadership muscle in different ways. Branching out, not only playing the piano, but also leading songs. And music, generally. And teaching Sunday school.

My gifts and graces (just as Peter said, above) have been appreciated by so many. It’s wonderful to think of how many bible studies, Sunday school classes, small congregations, and other kinds of groups have benefitted from my service, over the years.

This coming weekend, my fellow pastor and I will lead in worship and witness to the Resurrection. Oh, and I had better practice a bit more on the piano. I want to do an especially excellent job. The dear senior well deserves the best of everything at the funeral service. God willing, I will be able to serve in this special way.


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