I Preach, Therefore I Am

There are people who derive a lot of their self-worth from the work that they do. They are their profession. And so each day they drive or Metro in to the office and get it done, feeling, at the end of that day, that they have contributed something to make life better for their family and their community.

Staying home for days on end, and not doing what they are called and paid to do, leaves them feeling disconnected and depressed.

I am one of these people. Called to the Christian ministry as a teenager, and actively serving as a pastor since I was 19, this is the only life I have ever really known. Husband, father, pastor--this has been my purpose. How I have invested my life. The angst I have been feeling lately comes from my inability to carry out that third role--pastor--the way I always have.

My job is to preach and teach God's Word. Thanks to the Internet, streaming, ZOOM, and other forms of modern technology, I can still do that. Remotely, of course, but the Word still goes forth.

But my job is also to love, encourage, and counsel people. To lead, as a shepherd, those that God has entrusted to my care.

To embrace someone graveside who is grieving. To sit with young children and read with them in my lap. To share God's Word with people and actually see the light come on in their eyes as a biblical truth becomes clearer. To baptize a person and get a little wet myself in the process.
Those days will return-- I know. In a few weeks, or maybe months. We'll be back together again. But I'm missing them right now is all. Except for annual vacations (two weeks at a time is all I can stand) and the Sabbatical I was granted a few years ago and which I enjoyed immensely, this will end up being the longest I have ever been separated from the people I serve-- and love.

Until then, I look into a camera and talk to a screen. I might see you in the grocery store or pharmacy, but I cannot give you a hug. I can call you in the hospital and pray with you over the phone, but I cannot hold your hand as I do it.

Yes, I can call and I can still pray. I can breathe your name before the Father-- priestly work for sure-- without breathing on you. I can write you a note or an email.

Each of us on the pastoral staff is trying to stay connected with our people. Our great Deacons, too, and Bible Fellowship leaders. Our hearts are committed to serving and we will remain faithful to the task. But we are having to learn how to do all of this on the run. As we are doing it.

"Then you will know which way to go, since you have not been this way before" (Joshua 3:4).

We will come through all of this, I know we will. In the meantime I am going to read, watch movies, and play card games with Audrey. Stay in touch with family and dear friends around the world. Thinking more deeply about some things than I have had the time to do lately. To keep my heart tender toward God-- and people. Responding to His promptings and to their needs as best I can.

All the while, working on those sermons that still must be preached. Only now to be delivered in an almost empty room to a camera, a group of musicians, the tech team...and, of course, Archie.
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