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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Another Day of Being Kind, Another Blessing!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Monday, February 24, 2014

Sergei icy berries

Another Day of Being Kind, Another Blessing!

I helped out someone today, and did a number of small acts of service. Did things around the house, including washing and disinfecting the bathroom floor, bathroom rug and bathtub. (A problem involving an overflowing toilet happened over the weekend. Scrub-a-dub!)

While I was there, a relative called on the phone. To check in, and also to thank me for taking care of these necessary things while she was at work. She was so grateful! She thanked me, and even blessed me! She caught herself, and laughed. “Imagine, me a Jewish girl, blessing a pastor!” I laughed, too. And then I commented, “Thank you so much for your blessings! Me, I’ll take all the blessings I can get!” In retrospect, I made a mildly humorous comment. But, I meant it sincerely, too.

I was busy most of the morning, tidying up from the plumbing problem. But this was a definite way for me to show caring, concern, love and kindness. Both today’s blessing and yesterday’s blessing caused me to think. Both were unexpected. Both were heartfelt. Both caught me off guard, but I still sincerely thanked the givers of both blessings.

I remembered another, similar happening with someone who has since died. This one involved my acting as a chaplain, more than ten years ago. I served at a large retirement community, in the health care center. I was so happy I was assigned to the floor where Miss Rose had her room. I knew Miss Rose from years before, at a church where I formerly attended. She loved the Lord, and she told everyone about it. Miss Rose had severe chronic pain issues. She rarely said anything, but I knew she was often hurting.

One day, the pain was particularly bad. I happened to be on the health care unit, and the nurse asked me to go and see Miss Rose. “Of course!” I said. I went to her side. She was lying in bed, her face wrinkled up like a prune from trying to deal with the pain. I greeted her, offered to pray with her. She loved to pray! She loved praying with others, too!

I knew she was in severe pain, and wanted to be thoughtful. I did not want to overstay my welcome. So I talked with her for just a couple of minutes. Then I prayed briefly. When I was done, Miss Rose squeezed my hand and told me that my prayer was lovely. She said she felt God working through it, too. But she didn’t let my hand go afterwards. She started right in, praying for me. Blessing me. Calling down God’s power and strength for my ministry.

I was flabbergasted. Dumbstruck. Miss Rose was in unbelievable pain, and she turned around and prayed for me? Her prayer and blessing were unexpected and heartfelt. Both caught me off guard, but I still sincerely thanked Miss Rose afterwards.

No matter when and where prayer and blessing happen, I can still thank God. (“Thanks, God!”)

@chaplaineliza