Two friends asked me yesterday what I love about being a pastor. They wanted to know what I do all day and why I am nourished by work in a small congregation. These questions are my conversational gateway drugs. I start talking faster and faster, smiling wider and wider as I tell about the beauty of being a generalist in ministry. I ooze gratitude for the lessons I'm learning and the people who whisper their sacred sorrows and joys in my ear.
Yesterday, for instance, was an ordinary day. I put the key in the door to my office expecting to do a few particular things, assuming I would not get to others and waiting for the "interruptions" that always call me into true ministry.
I read and prayed and scribbled sermon ideas for Palm Sunday. I wandered through the sanctuary, preparing the space for worship. I read the children's book "Benjamin's Box: The Story of the Resurrection Eggs" to get a sense of the Sunday school project this week. I answered emails.
Then I drove to a lunch meeting where we discussed Luther Seminary's role in preparing healthy stewardship leaders for congregations across the country. A member of the team's car broke down and I took her home. Our conversation had more time to grow and it was a worthy digression from my day.
I finished my afternoon visits sitting with a brave and beautiful and stubborn woman getting used to the idea of comfort care and saying goodbyes. She told me things about her prayer life that sounded naked and vulnerable, as though they had never been given words until now. We held hands and prayed.
It is an honor to serve people communion by name, to remember their baptisms and to listen to the complexity of their job searches or the hymns their mother loved as we plan a funeral together. It is a lovely thing to be invited into the home of a widow who has never managed money or technology and now must fax her late husband's will. It's a beautiful victory to show her weathered fingers something new and to see her strong smile when she hits "send".
I am grateful for the Valentines I receive from Sunday school students, covered in glitter and made with love. I am grateful for the stale cookies I am offered during home visits and they way they soften in my mouth with the help of dark coffee. Yesterday was a good day and, as I put the key in my office door this morning, I got the feeling today will be filled with blessings, too.