Of Service? Naturally!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, September 25, 2014

people with whom our hearts are knitted

Of Service? Naturally!

I had the opportunity to be kind, helpful and of service today.

It was like this. Someone called the church some days ago, and wanted to know whether she might be able to rent out the church for an event in a few months. We arranged to meet this afternoon, at a time that was convenient for all of us. The office manager, Sunny, and I showed the woman around the church, answered as many questions about the facility as we could, and were genuinely as helpful as both of us could be. Sunny even let the friendly woman know that she could make herself available as photographer—since that is another business that she has. The woman laughed, and mentioned something about the full services our church provides. We all agreed on the humor in that situation.

The woman seemed to be both pleased and touched to see the preschool children, as well as the babies and toddlers. The children were taking their nap right after lunch, when the two of us peeked into several spaces where the children usually made their presence well known. But, not at this time. It was nap time, and we were especially quiet, even while checking out the facilities.

I had a good day before that, too. I grabbed a quick lunch with Pastor Gordon, my former fellow pastor at St. Luke’s Church. Gordon and I always have a wonderful time together, and he is so helpful and wise on top of everything else. He and I periodically meet together to talk, since he has so kindly offered to mentor me and give me some handy tips for church administrative and procedural matters. Of course, I was tickled to death at this prospect. Gordon has several decades of solid experience, and he is one of the best people I can think of to mentor me. Solid stuff he communicates, and so helpful, too.

After that, meeting with the cheerful, pleasant woman at church was the main event of the day, as far as I am concerned. It felt good to be responding to someone who was asking genuine questions about our church, and had real interest in our building. I know St. Luke’s Church building is a modest facility, but I certainly appreciate its many good qualities. And, I hope I highlighted them today. God willing, yes!

@chaplaineliza

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Being of Service, at a Midweek Service

A Year of Being Kind blog – Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Showers of Stoles - photo - 7/07/12 The Chautauquan Daily

Showers of Stoles – photo – 7/07/12 The Chautauquan Daily

Being of Service, at a Midweek Service

I love to preach. (Have I mentioned that before? If I haven’t, I meant to.) I love every aspect of the preaching process. I usually preach from the Lectionary texts, the set Scripture passages for each Sunday. From handling the Scripture, praying over it to see where the Lord is leading, doing research and consulting commentaries and other books, to actually sitting down and writing the sermon. And then—the delivery. Ahh! That is the icing on top of a delectable cake! I won’t say it’s enjoyable or rewarding to write a sermon every single time, because it isn’t. But about 95 percent of the time, it is!

Today, I had the opportunity to preach at a midweek service for seniors. The service was in the chapel of the large Presbyterian Home in Evanston, where I’ve preached a number of times before. Plus, I served there as a chaplain intern when I was in seminary, more than ten years ago. I still preach at the Home on occasion when needed. So today, I was of service, leading a service.

Three things stand out in my mind. First, my sermon, on Psalm 103. I enjoyed writing it, and I think I delivered it well. One of my illustrations particularly struck me, moved me. I teared up while I was preaching (unusual for me), but I managed to make it through the last page of my manuscript. And, several people particularly mentioned how moving the sermon was. Praise God.

Second, I saw a dear senior (now a resident in his mid-nineties!) who I have known for almost twenty years. He and a relative of his came to the midweek service. I hadn’t seen him for at least a year and a half, perhaps two years. I so appreciated his presence at the service. He and I were dear friends, and he faithfully prayed for me some years ago while I was in seminary. But—he never had an opportunity to hear me preach—until today. Dear, dear man. I am so glad he felt well enough to attend the service.

The third thing? Something that also moves me deeply. And, causes me to reflect on the passage of time, and the changing of the seasons. The ending of one chapter, and the beginning of the next. The Director of Chaplaincy and my former supervisor is retiring at the end of this week, on August 1st. The Reverend Doctor Frank Baldwin will leave the Presbyterian Home after twenty years. He has touched so many lives, over the years. Whether residents, their loved ones, staff, other chaplains and ministers, or student chaplain interns (like me), Frank has done a marvelous job. As a chaplain, as an administrator, as a co-worker, as a mentor and advisor.

I look up to Frank and his quiet, efficient, never-hurried skills and gifts in administration, chaplaincy and preaching—combined! I know he will be sorely missed. His skilled hand of administration is almost always invisible behind the scenes. Yet, he firmly holds the reins of the pastoral care departments of the several sites of the Presbyterian Homes network. And, on top of all that, he never forgets a name. (Unbelievable memory!) Frank, I am so glad that I was able to preach well for you today. Here’s wishing you a fruitful retirement, a smooth transition, and enjoyable future with your wife, your family, and in further ministry–wherever God takes you. God bless you richly, now and always.

@chaplaineliza

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In Which I Am a Pianist and a Chaplain

A Year of Being Kind blog – Thursday, April 17, 2014

LOVE let all you do 1 Cor 16

In Which I Am a Pianist and a Chaplain

Today was a busy day! Since it was Maundy Thursday, I had a good deal to take care of today. And tonight. After dashing to church to make certain the bulletin and order of worship for Good Friday’s worship service was all set, I dashed—again—over to the senior residence to play for the health care Maundy Thursday services. I do love being of service to the dear elderly people. Whether infirm, or cognitively impaired, or both, I consider this an important part of my ministry.

The dramatic reading in the brief services today took the place of a sermon. Given the material covered from the book of Luke, the reading certainly provided a great deal of interest. And raw emotion. Spiritual impact, too. I heard the reading given three separate times, and each time different things stood out for me.

Yes, I was of service. And yes, I did play a number of pieces and arrangements of hymns and gospel songs. I felt useful and needed. I guess being of service regularly would help that. The useful and needed parts, I mean. Then, lunch with several chaplains. That’s always a pleasant opportunity that I have: having a meal at the retirement center where I sometimes play the piano. Such a great place to continue relationships, too.

But, wait! That’s not all! I continued to be of service with a good friend this afternoon. I listened, and served as an (unofficial) chaplain. Really, my active listening skills came to the forefront. I didn’t even have to “turn them on,” because the skills just sort of turned on, by themselves. I heard about the continuing challenges and difficulties in my good friend’s life. I think I made a difference, just being there. Just listening and trying to understand.

I guess both situations are places where I tried to journey a little way with others. In the first case, I played the piano and journeyed with these dear seniors as they experienced an important worship service today—Maundy Thursday communion service. And then, my friend this afternoon. I really tried to understand a little more and provide what encouragement I could. In other words, I tried to journey with my friend for a little while. As my mentor Claude-Marie Barbour has said many, many times, journeying with someone is the most important part of being with them in a pastoral or spiritual way.

Just thinking of her is a reminder for me to pray for my mentor and friend Claude-Marie. I do wish her well! And I will call her after Easter to give her my best Easter greetings, too! Except—we need to get through Good Friday, first. Going through the valley of the shadow, journeying with Jesus as He walked that lonesome road through Gethsemane and beyond.

@chaplaineliza

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