Monday, July 6, 2020
40 years and counting. . .
My home church had faithfully supported me along the way. Their financial and prayerful support had helped to bring me to this day. They even gave me $500 for vestments (which my loving wife made from Almy kits and thus magnified the gift into a full set of chasubles still in regular use!). We had a meal in the church basement and their were some special gifts from special people. A quilt was handmade with scenes embroidered from Scripture and countless cards and gifts of money were given to a young pastor whose future was waiting to be written. I deserve nothing of their kindness but kindness is never deserved -- just like the Lord's kindness is bestowed upon us, unworthy though we are.
We made a trip to pick out a sofa and a couple of chairs and purchased a washer and dryer and freezer from my dad and loaded them up for New York. We stopped in Ft. Wayne to pick up the rest of our meager belongings and headed into the great unknown. I still remember the drive through Cairo, NY, one street long with no sign or direction or GPS to tell us we were there. We did see the moving van and put two and two together and suddenly we were looking over the parsonage that would be our home and the church that would be my workplace. It seems like yesterday. But forty years have passed.
I am not a starry eyed youth anymore. My beard is gray and my hair is graying and my kids are all now older than I was when I was ordained. My wife is about the only one who has not changed all that much. Some days I feel old and tired. But, strangely enough, most of the time I feel much like I did 40 years ago. I love what I am doing and find being a pastor just as compelling as when I began. Thanks to the COVID 19 pandemic, the past four months or so have been filled with unknowns and challenges to keep me focused on what I do and not on how long I have been doing it. I will have to face the day when the dreaded "r" word (retirement) will have to be faced but not now and not yet. I am happy to have been in only two parishes -- Cairo, NY, and now Clarksville, TN. I still get butterflies when I mount the steps to the pulpit and I still feel in awe of lifting my hands at the altar and bringing the Lord's body and blood to His people. I have been given a great associate to ease some of the burden and, as he began his own journey as a pastor, we have built a solid friendship on mutual respect and great affection.
Forty years. . . and counting. Deo volente.