Recently, Clint Schnekloth posted the challenge to clergy colleagues to blog their week. I decided that this week would be just as good as any to document and think about what goes on in this vocation as well as in the normal routine of life. I appreciated the challenge and noticed that it forced me to really look at all the things that go on every week. I was reminded about why I feel so blessed to be a pastor and continue to find great joy in this calling. Here, is my week in a snapshot: It is long…sorry…but it was good to write.
Sunday, January 13th
This day was supposed to be spent in Mount Pleasant Michigan where I would preach to one of our Mission Partner Congregations. Recently they took an offering to support our ministry here in honor of their anniversary. However, Mother Nature had other plans and an Ice Storm forced us to change. I preached my sermon Saturday night in my office at home to my iPad and hosted it on YouTube where they were able to project it from on Sunday. I received a text from the pastor there and she said, “You are Ginormous” I guess I can cross that goal off the list! Since I was home, I did help lead worship at Advent– our intern preached and I presided. In addition I participated in the Spanish Class we are offering in preparation for our Vision Trip to Guatemala in a few weeks. After a long day I went home, spent some quality time with the family and tried to stay away from work-related things as best as I could.
Monday, January 14th
Monday came and looking back it was a very, very full day. It began with my regular visit to the Chiropractor to be straightened out! After that I went from meeting to meeting. First was a meeting to plan for an upcoming retreat with a staff member that lead to some dreaming about the future of the work Advent is called to live into. After that I was blessed to sit with our intern for a short meeting to catch up a bit on her plan for the week and to go through her Sunday experience and her preaching that day. From the intern meeting to catching up with a gentleman who does not actively worship with us. His family experienced an unimaginable crisis a couple summers ago and I love to be able to connect with him. He is an explorer of sorts- into discovering ship-wrecks and I always walk away from our coffee time learning much more about him, his family, and myself. We talked about the hope of a regular gathering for folks “outside” the church at a local pub to talk theology and faith and life…the beginning I hope of a great plan for a new outreach. I was forced to end our meeting early as I had to get to my son’s school to coach his fourth grade basketball team- something I consider very much an outreach in itself. We are 4-0…but it’s not about winning J. In the midst of that I received a facebook message from someone I grew up with…wondering a bit about faith and life…searching and longing…I responded and a conversation continues to today. After Basketball I ran my son home and came back to the church for our Building Committee meeting where we decided to go to bit March 1st for our new home for the church! Around 9 I made it home, shared a cold beer with my wife and wound down before heading to bed.
Tuesday, January 15th
I started Tuesday by going to the gym to get a little exercise- this was a good decision. After the gym I met a gentleman for lunch who I coached football with and then headed to the Hospice House to visit a 33 year old man from our congregation who is facing the end of his days due to an illness called Devic’s Syndrome. We prayed for him and his family and we decided that Saturday his wife and he would renew their wedding vows. I left thinking, “this is the most special vocation in the world.” On my way back to the office to meet a person who I mentor for our Synod’s SAM program I get a text from a member that her husband is back in the hospital. He is battling cancer and is in due to an infection and low blood counts. She asks for no visitors yet but promises to keep me posted. After finishing the mentor session I put a call into our bishop to connect on a few things related to the conference (I serve as Dean) and give him an update on a few things. This was a blessed time. I finish the weekly email feed for the next morning and write the Bible Study for Wednesday on the Gospel of John and connect via a actual snail mail letter with a person serving time in prison who writes regularly. At 6 the financial secretary comes in for a meeting to update some information on our new software and then around 8 I head home for the evening. I kiss my kids goodnight and the wife and I wait eagerly for our favorite show to come on…I kill the time with mindless video games.
Wednesday, January 16th
Wednesday finds me in Staff Meeting to start the day where we plan for our Lenten Wednesday night gatherings. This is followed by Bible Study and catching up with small tasks that need my attention. I drive to town for a late lunch with a friend who does not attend church…invite him to come as I always do…I think I am wearing him down J. I get an update via text of the gentlemen fighting cancer who is the hospital and his wife let’s me know that he would love to see me. I head to Munson Hospital for what turns into a very life-giving visit for me. D is a retired Pastor who simply is an amazing man that I consider a huge blessing personally. Our visit is too short, but I am forced to leave to get the kids from school. After my wife gets home from work I go and play basketball with a group of guys in town. A good night for sure.
Thursday, January 17th
Thursday is my day to connect with retired pastors apparently. I have coffee with one like I do most weeks and we talk about ministry, life, books and all things good at a local coffee shop. After that I travel to the East Side of Traverse city to go on the Vic McCarty radio show as I do each month for an hour. This hour proves to be exciting as always! Following the radio spot I head out to Honor Michigan to catch up with another retired pastor and to listen to him and the struggles he is currently facing in his life. He worships with us on occasion and just like the other two retired pastors I am blessed to have around- he blesses me again and again. I spend the afternoon in the office, catching up, thinking on my sermon, emailing and facebooking back people and then decided to email our sheriff who made a statement about the Gun Control Debate that troubled me. We are now set to have coffee soon to discuss this further. My son had a basketball game that night and after that I went home and enjoyed the time with my family- and getting ready for my daughter’s 7th birthday on Friday!
Friday, January 18th
Friday is my Sabbath- normally. This day lent itself to a little Sabbath and a little work. It began with a little birthday celebration and gift opening for my daughter! After the kids headed to school and my wife to work, I met a member at a local retreat facility to get the lay of the land for our retreat for council next weekend. I then went to my kids’ school to deliver flowers to my daughter in honor of her birthday. I also ate lunch with her, was able to read with her and a buddy and have lunch with my son among other things! This was awesome! After school the kids and I picked up some friends and headed to Right Brain Brewery where my wife was working. This is one of my favorite pubs and is owned by dear friends. Now, normally we would not take a seven year old to a pub for her birthday…but mom was working and kids are more than welcome at this place. We ordered pizza, kids played games, drank rootbeer and mom got done early so we had fun! Then we went home and watched the video surround the birth of P!
Saturday, January 19th
Saturday was an early morning with Men’s group at 7 AM- fourteen men came this month as we ate breakfast, prayed together and studied a little of the book of Acts. I darted out early to pick up my son and take him to his basketball game- we won! Today was the day for the renewal of vows for the man in hospice and his wife. This was probably one of the most difficult and amazing things I have ever been blessed to do. We gathered (myself, a few folks from Advent, the man and his wife, their three young kids, and another friend, plus Jetty Rae came with her husband and sang a special private concert). We did the renewal, we cried…a lot…we prayed, we came together…we all grew – something happened. Cake followed and then I met my family at home and we headed to Crystal Mountain for some swimming to celebrate that 7 year old in our house. Home, more cake, dinner and then to the office to write the sermon for today! Blessed while writing sermon for a random visit from a neighbor. The interruption proved again that it was not an interruption at all but a time to connect and to be.
Sunday, January 20th
That brings me to today. Church, an amazing day of worship- new families visiting at both services and the chance to baptize the baby of one of the first young ladies we confirmed at Advent. In almost 8 years I have been blessed to do 90+ baptisms…this one was special in so many ways. Wow! What a day.
This is what I do, I love it…every bit of it. There is so much missing in this quick snapshot…but this is it…I love it…all of it, and I continue to thank God that I get to do this for a living.