Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Pastor (11/30/06)
TITLE: Servant to Servant
By Marlene Bonney
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The aging preacher was balding and tired and had uncertain health, having suffered two former heart attacks. He walked slower and was heavier than in the past as a result, but he refused to give in to his aches and pains . . .
Their church sat on the outskirts of town. It had none of the amenities associated with the newer “glorified worship centers” where the more “happening” people attended. The pew cushions made by a former deceased parishioner needed replacing, along with the sanctuary carpet that had been installed in the seventies. The parking lot needed to be repaved and the sidewalks and entryways were slowly disintegrating. The congregation had dwindled in attendance over the years until it became a blessing when their numbers hit triple digits (which would happen primarily at Easter or Christmas). Their offerings covered a modest salary for the “staff”, which, besides the preacher, included the lady who gave 10 hours a week in the office and a contracted janitor. There was not much left over for frills.
Her minister was younger than she (but then, who wasn’t?) though still of a former generation’s mentality and demeanor. He called on her every two weeks without fail, supplying her with bulletins and taped sermons. The widow oftentimes recalled how he had helped her--at the hospital, at the funeral home and even at the school that time her teenager, Cody, had gotten into trouble. She also remembered joyous events he had conducted for her family: graduation blessings, weddings, baptisms. She called him Pastor Williams, although the younger people addressed him as “Coach Scott”—she knew he just tolerated the modern terminology. He still wrote out his sermons by hand and delivered them behind an ornate podium, but had read of all the newer-fangled power-point presentations to compliment the message and the acrylic stands cutting-edge preachers used. Many of his newer minister friends boasted about their technological advances and about praise teams that seemed to him were making a service on a platform framed with an altar a theatrical stage performance. But, if there was one thing they both had learned over his fifty plus years of ministry, “you can’t fight progress”)
“Dear God, thank you for Pastor Williams’ visit this afternoon. When he prays with me, I feel like the very gates of heaven are opening and that You are sitting right across from us. Help him with the load he carries, dear Lord. You know all the heavy burdens he has, helping those in our church with THEIR trials and temptations. I so appreciate you giving his time to me when I know there are others who need him more. Please encourage his heart when he feels drained and old and has a difficult time accepting change. Help him to know the comfort of Your strong arms supporting him when he has nothing left to give. Thank you that I can call on him at any time and don’t have to have a scheduled appointment with a “Shut-ins Ministry Pastor” like Cousin Charlotte in Baltimore. Please give him the energy and heart he needs to keep serving You in spite of criticism or complaining that surrounds him.”
“Oh, my Father in heaven, how I praise you for the testimony of Sister Snyder and her words of encouragement to me today. It is so nice to share your love with someone who is willing to be Your servant. Please give her strength to take on the days awarded her, and help her to know Your presence in her life. Thank you for the unconditional love and support she has rendered to me as her Pastor and friend and for her upbeat attitude, regardless of aching bones and struggling finances. It is people like her who uplift my spirit in the midst of power struggles and petty battles within your church. God, help me to be more like her and not handle people as harshly as I am inclined to, and to love in deeds as I have seen her do.” And thank you for our camaraderie--two old, tough warriors fighting to the end to bring You honor and glory.”
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