Tuesday, January 13, 2009

In times of grief

It is in those times of grief, of personal loss, that the pastor becomes the one in need. During that time, roles are reversed and the congregation becomes the one who ministers to the pastor. It is during that time, that the pastor finds out how well he or she has been getting the message of the gospel across. For the congregation, it is a time to realize its role in ministry - to all who are in need. Thanks be to God that this is so!

Why this odd post? My 97 year old grandmother passed away last week. Not that this could ever happen at a good time, but it was the day before we were to leave on a weekend retreat with the church council. We both went, stayed for most of the retreat, then drove across the state to arrive in time for the funeral and then spend a couple of days with my mother. The council was able to spend time during the weekend being on the giving end rather than the receiving end of pastoral care. It is wonderful to see this process work, and work well.

There will be reflections on my grandmother at a later time (not sure that I could do it yet), but suffice it to say that all of her 9 remaining children (out of 10) were there, most of 21 grandchildren, and I have forgotten how many great grandchildren there are, but many were present. Along with the many, many friends in the community, as well as other relatives and so on, it was a full house for the funeral. There were no less than six ministers present (including us). The grandsons served as pallbearers, which included me. It was the one job I had never done during a funeral. I have been in the choir, assisted with communion, preached, presided, ushered, directed, assisted, etc., but this was my first as a pallbearer. Probably a topic worthy of later reflection as well.

One thing that becomes apparent when a loved one dies, especially in the technically and socially connected world as we now live in - you see how many, many friends you have, all looking out for you. I find that I am very, very blessed, as was Grandma Nellie.

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