A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Handling Holy Things

Last week, I received a phone call from Bob, who is a retired United Methodist pastor. I have known Bob since I was fourteen. Our family started attending his church in Canton, Ohio at that time. Bob was instrumental in my life as I entered into pastoral ministry. We rather lost touch over the years, but in 1998 when I was appointed to Smithville UMC, we renewed our relationship as he was serving at a church in Wooster, Ohio some three miles away.

Bob retired a few years ago, and he invited me to go to Cuba in 2004 to teach pastors there preparing for ministry. His invitation opened a huge door for me as I have returned to Cuba several times and will be returning next March, at the invitation of the Bishop of the Methodist Church there, to preach at their General Conference. Bishop Perreira has also invited me to spend a week with him traveling the island preaching and teaching. None of this would have been possible apart from Bob.

Bob phoned me last week asking if I would come over. Bob is dying of cancer. He wanted to speak to me about his service as he has asked me to be involved. As we reminisced over the years that have passed by so quickly, he said to me that he wanted his funeral service to be, not about him, but about Jesus; and he wanted it to be a time to encourage the clergy who were present. In the midst of all the difficulties that pastors face in their ministries, he wanted his service to be a reminder that God has called pastors to, in his words, "handle holy things."

What a stark reminder to me that God in his grace (and it is grace to be sure) has called me to handle holy things. He has called me to break the bread and lift the cup for Holy Communion. He has called me to put the waters of baptism upon children. He has called me to handle the holy moments of grief as a family mourns the death of a loved one, and he has called me to handle the holy moments of joy as a family celebrates a wedding.

Isaiah has a vision of God in the Temple: "I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. And above him were seraphs... and they were calling to one another, 'Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory'" (9:1-3, selected).

If God has called you to handle holy things, do so as one in the temple having a vision of God.

My prayer is that I will handle the holy things of God in the faith and integrity that Bob has handled them in his ministry.

Handling holy things: all of a sudden my daily routine no longer seems routine.

1 comment:

Brennan said...

That's a really cool post. I will definitely think about it.