You see the previous weekend I went to Dallas to visit a very special member of our church and his family. Well unfortunately that church member passed just a few days later. This was a giant of a man in our church and in the church in general. He was a business leader, a philanthropist, a tireless worker in our church up until he drove himself to Dallas. He sang in the choir, took care of money, has done just about anything you could do in the church. A patriarch.
Here's little ole me..just did my first funeral on a 16 hours notice. Now I was being asked to do another just a week later.
I got a lot of input from the family. They were a joy to visit with. I got input from my friends and former co pastors. I did visitation at the funeral home Friday night...then I spent a little time at the Lufkin Panther game.... then I went home, stayed up till about 1:00 a.m. and put together what I hoped would be a message that would honor this man and a message that would please his family and friends.
I was never really very nervous. I had so many of YOU praying for me. I also had a great man to speak about. A rich and full life and a joyous family that shared their love with me.
No doubt. Many people in the church were not sure just how well this green, part-time pastor would do. I did have that other funeral you know...but I didn't write the message for that. That one I was blessed to use the message of my co-pastor..who was suffering from double pneumonia.
So I got up Saturday, went through it a few times. Went up to the church to visit family at their brunch, came back home, put on my not so seldom worn suit and headed back to church.
It was a wonderful service. The singing was great. He loved to sing so I know that would have pleased him. I did what I was supposed to do and then we had a brief reception after.
From the feedback of those there I think I did ok. Something more happened there though. And this may be more inside me than anything that was thought by everyone else in church. I actually felt like I WAS their pastor now. I felt like I had served in an important pastoral role to someone much older than me and that part of the church community now saw me a little differently.. that was probably more my own perception than anything else. But even if it was...it was a nice feeling.
Home and some rest... Up and to church the next morning. It's 8:45 and our guest pastor has not arrived. We had some announcements that morning..and they went a little long.. and I was ok with that. We also started just a few minutes late..that was on purpose. We still didn't have a pastor once I had done communion and so it was time for a message. I had been rolling ideas around in my head all morning in case our guest pastor didn't arrive.
I read the scripture..
Jesus Heals a Paralytic1Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. 2Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven."
3At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!"
4Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? 5Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? 6But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins...." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home." 7And the man got up and went home. 8When the crowd saw this, they were filled with awe; and they praised God, who had given such authority to men.
I said a short prayer...and fortunately we didn't have much time left..but I gave a short message.. and nothing that I had planned (in the last 40 minutes) came out of my mouth.. my message went to a place about the discussion of "which is easier" I've always wondered which is easier but hadn't thought it through. Now the Holy Spirit was walking me through. You see I had always thought it would be so easy to say "your sins are forgiven". I know I couldn't tell someone who couldn't walk to get up and walk... and make it happen. But I could always tell someone their their sins are forgiven. Then I started thinking about our modern technology and how we can heal so many things now that so many years ago would have killed us. We have computers and machines and advanced knowledge way beyond those days. We can heal people and make them walk but we are still fragile, imperfect, human beings. What is easier for us to do? Is it easier to heal a man or to forgive a man? So we are called to forgive. but it is difficult isn't it? It's also healthy for us.. for the others as well as ourselves. I said some other stuff but the part that truly enlightened me was that I finally learned what Jesus was meaning about it was easier to heal than to forgive sins... to for give those who sin against us.
Our guest pastor showed up in time for late church. We had a great service. A few hours later I gave the message and led music for the youth that evening. So...it was another busy but blessed weekend.
What's next weekend? Maybe I'll let you know.. after... got to go to bed.