“This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalms 118:24)
Back in the ‘90s there was a guy who attended our church who used to (critically) ask (about me) “What does he DO all day?!” That comment “got back” to me a number of times. I’ve found after all these years that there’s NEVER a typical pastor’s day. A few years ago, I submitted a piece to the MetroWest Daily News about what ministers do “all day” and I was very pleased that they published it. I’m sitting at the computer at 5:20 in the afternoon and I decided to write a similar piece because today was an interesting day for me.
Some people imagine ministers (and priests and rabbis and other clergy) have ecstatic spiritual experiences...communing with angels...seeing rapturous visions...even hearing the audible voice of God...kind of like Moses with the burning bush. Well, YES, things like that ARE possible and sometimes people of ANY stripes CAN experience all the kind of stuff I’ve just mentioned. But 99.9% of what a minister does and how he lives is just living out what someone has called “the stuff of life”. My wife leaves for work at Marian High School before 6 a.m. Today was Thursday, and that meant trash day for us. I also had a meeting to attend in Worcester, so I made sure I was up at 6 and into the bathroom. By 7 I had all the trash and recycling out to the curb.
The cost of oil has hit our church hard because we “locked in” our price last summer. I know, I know....not the smartest move. It means keeping the church building really cold. I knew Claire, an elderly lady would be coming into the church building to do a few things this morning. I decided to go over and turn up the heat. In the process of that I took a phone call which really got me hot under the collar. The person on the phone was just expressing their opinion about something they felt was important. I know it’s bad to be REACTIVE but that’s exactly what I did. After the call was over, I was in a blue funk and didn’t feel like going to the meeting in Worcester. I’m not blaming the caller, incidentally. It was me and how I reacted, but I came within a whisker of not going to my “Assemblies of God pastors sectional meeting”. I realized I’d told Gary, the pastor running the meeting I’d be there. Not wanting to break my word, I headed up the highway to Worcester.
We met in a function room at Denny’s restaurant. I was one of the last to arrive. Many guys were already being served their meals. I was so hungry, and even more, I WANTED COFFEE! All the guys (and gals) about my age were at the opposite end of the table where no more seats were available. I sat down with two very young and very energetic pastors. I felt so old! Then, a man who was even later in arriving than me entered the room. It was 84-year-old Ray Jacobsen who had been the District Superintendent (like a bishop) in the 1970s. He sat down next to me. I could tell he was not feeling any more comfortable with the enthusiastic twenty-somethings than I was, and he began talking and talking and talking to me like we were best friends. He told me all about what Sectional meetings were like in the early 1950s. Believe it or not, I enjoyed the conversation.
One thing that cracked me up is that when the formal part of the meeting started, one of the guys yelled out, “Brother Jacobsen, you look really good!” Immediately he happily responded, “That’s because I’m full of embalming fluid!”
It was one of those times when everybody laughed nervously, but he was fine with it. I mean, he was essentially saying, “I want to keep myself looking good so I’ll look good in the casket,” and laughing about it! I guess he really is like the Apostle Paul...looking forward to being “present with the Lord” (see 2 Corinthians 5:8)!
The speaker was an evangelist who now is on staff at one of our larger churches. As he began speaking, it occurred to me that he sounded remarkably like Marlon Brando as The Godfather! I was fighting to keep from laughing. I soon learned that the evangelist was in a terrible accident in 2006, CRUSHED, on life supports and that he clinically died several times. He walks with a cane and talks like The Godfather, but has made a remarkable recovery! His “message” spoke RIGHT TO ME. It was uncanny. He began sharing from Psalm 143 and shared a number of specifics that he felt were for someone present today. It was awesome, because that someone was obviously me. (And to THINK of how close I came to not attending!) I was “playing it cool” on the outside, but inside I just felt like breaking down in tears. God spoke to me SO powerfully through this guy. Afterwards I handed him a business card and asked him to phone me or e-mail me. I left feeling quite mystical- happy, scared, sobered, reflective all in one.
Back at the office there was more work to do to get ready for this Saturday night’s church business meeting. I worked on that for awhile, and felt guilty about going home for lunch because it seemed like I had JUST eaten breakfast. I whipped up a quick lunch, and then I headed off to the banks where the church has accounts. I needed to get paperwork to change the signatories on the accounts after this weekend’s business meeting. Well, that USED to be an easy matter! I learned at each bank that due to “The Patriot Act” all who are going to be signers have to come into the bank(s) with I.D. and a letter from the church explaining the changed to the account(s). I know that people with jobs and “lives” just love when the church requests they take time out of their busy week to do something like this, but we just will have to. I was back at the office and in the process of putting out some church related e-mails when suddenly it hit me that I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE AT A DENTAL APPOINTMENT WHICH I’D FORGOTTEN!
I frantically called the dentist’s office and I drove (very fast!) to my appointment.
The hygienist was new. She was very nice, but I missed my old hygienist. I always get a lecture about not flossing and today was no exception. Well, I DIDN’T have any cavities, so THAT was good!
Back at the church office I had F.I.C.A responsibilities to attend to. No, I’m not referring to Social Security...I’m this year’s Secretary of the Framingham Interfaith Clergy Association. I needed to write and e-mail the Minutes of our most recent meeting, update the e-mail list, update the U.S. mail list, and e-mail some other information to the Convener (this year’s leader). I was glad to get that all done. Then it was onto some church paperwork for awhile, and it got to be almost 5 0’clock.
Yes, I’ve got our church business meeting this Saturday. It’s kind of a big deal because two of our long time Board members are “stepping down”, one after 27 years. (That one is the elderly lady I mentioned.) So, it will be kind of an emotional business meeting. My wife called this afternoon to let me know we’re having coffee and refreshments after the meeting, and...me... “Mr. Faith”... all I can think of that there’s supposed to be ICE on Saturday night and snow on Sunday. Some of the guys up in Worcester were talking about that forecast. Pastors HATE Sunday snowstorms.
Well, it’s almost supper time, so I’m going to quit writing.
That’s what I did on Thursday, February 26.
God is good.
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