You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13
I met him when he worked as a music minister at a local church. I played violin. He accompanied on the piano.
This wasn’t my regular church… I was a stranger in a strange land. But, they invited me. So, I played.
He was kind. An older gent with a heart of gold. A cut above the rest. He wasn’t the saccharine smiled faster-pastor I often meet in large churches. This guy listened. He took his time. He allowed the music to gel.
I played the service, then went on my merry way.
Fast forward to last weekend.
Imagine my surprise when I encountered that minister again… this time at my dad’s nursing home.
From what I hear, he… at his advanced age… went back to seminary and earned his divinity degree. He’s now a full fledged member of the ministry. And his chosen parish?
It’s not the mega church down the street. It’s not the fundamentalist congregation preserving a specific version of the past. It’s not the “progressive” ministry attracting social justice warriors.
It’s the local nursing home. Filled with invalids, the poor, the vulnerable, the weak… the fact he specifically chose to work with these folks amazed me. It filled me with curiosity. I had to understand why he wasn’t padding his IRA with a better paying gig.
Then I saw it.
Five minutes before the Christmas Eve service (held at 10:30 AM), there he was: wheeling a
woman back to her room where she could select the exact lap blanket she needed to warm her diabetes ravaged leg stump. Dressed in his robes, he chatted with the woman as they navigated their way against the pressing current of steel wheel-chair chariots inching their way towards church. Yet, in his eyes, she was the only person on earth at that moment. “Don’t worry,” he said leaning forward to speak closer to her good ear, “we have plenty of time.”
And they did. The service began a tad late. But there he stood. Blessing a rag tag congregation, a group of people so close to Heaven’s Gates, some of them claimed to actually see them.
He conducted the service with utter respect for both the message as well as his congregation. He played impeccable music with the exact same fervor I witnessed at his previous, polished church.
And even with all the time in the world, a literally captive audience, he treated each of his congregation with the same love I’ve always imagined the “Good Shepherd” holds as he watches his “sheep.”
It was an amazing experience… watching someone treat an entire group of forgotten people with such respect. Love. Compassion. All while expecting nothing in return because his people have already given all they possess… and more.
To go back to school, earn the degree, then select that particular congregation… that’s an amazing example of finding your “calling.”
As you journal on these thoughts, consider how you can minister to the forgotten, rag tag people in your world. What is your ministry?