One of the things I like about Jesus is how he was ready to help others, to show a sign of love and kindness, even when he was tired and even when he wasn’t sure where the strength or the energy was to come from. Not only that, he did this trusting in the best of the other, by that I mean that he could see past the surface, beyond the easy reality of those who came before him, and see into their souls and offer them bread.
Over the last two weeks my parents were here, it was their first trip here together, their first time seeing where we intend to raise our kids, their first time seeing the schools, the parks, the other kids, that are now part of our lives. Most importantly, it was their first real encounter with the church God has called us to. Some churches are mostly a drag on their ministers. I spoke recently with a minister who told me about how the role of minister is a life-sucking-soul-draining role with few, if any, life giving aspects. It was hard to see someone so in love with God, so willing to work for God’s kingdom, brought so low. The conversation also made me feel blessed.
You see, while my parents were here one church family lent us a Mercedes Benz for them to drive, another stopped by to pick up my dad to drive him to a men’s coffee group that meets weekly, others stopped in to say hi, one drove my mother around all day to show her how great this valley is and to share her love of God with my mom, and even went swimming with her. When my parents came to the church they had no time alone, people were gracious and kind, one even had a message from Ottawa and a few questions prepared for my dad. My parents were impressed at how well cared for we are, how kind and loving the church is, how many surrogate grandparents my kids have. I think they are beginning to understanding why we have moved so far, and to see that this really is the place God wants us to minister in, all of which makes the pain of being separated from their eldest son and more importantly their only grandkids more tolerable.
I don’t want us to underestimate these sorts of activities. Many churches are not so welcoming, not so helpful, not so life-giving. Do I get tired? Sure. Do I sometimes work too much? Sure. Do the people here force that on me? No. I can re-charge when I need to and the people here help me to do that. What I want to point out is how special that is. Many people in many churches assume the minister is cared for, they assume the minister and his/her family have many invitations to meals, many babysitters, many people saying thanks and valuing them, and so they do not do these things themselves but leave them to others…when enough people think this way the minister and their family flounder alone. Everyone is tired, everyone has many obligations, and the care of a minister and their family is often one too many. I am grateful that at St. Andrew’s we have a culture of care, a culture that knows many hands make light work. A culture where there is room for everyone, where we ask few questions and offer helping hands. It reminds me of Jesus and how he ministered to those around him, even those who were around but for a short time. Just like Jesus, though, we mustn’t stop with ministering to each other, we must go out and minister to those beyond our community; but more on that later, for now I have to get back to a sermon on bread.