It's way past my bedtime. Lately, lying down in the bed is not as comfortable as sitting in the recliner with the warm rice bag on my lower back or hip joints. I can think of three things causing the discomfort: being overweight, a smidge of arthritis and age. Only the first has a remedy and I don't seem to get serious about taking off the pounds. It's my own fault I'm sleepless. The good part is I can read or study without any interruptions unless Tom gets up to make his nightly walk to the kitchen for something sweet to eat. You'd think he'd be the overweight one in the family.
Today, or I guess it's yesterday now, I offiiciated at a graveside service for a man I didn't know. One of the Humboldt members called Monday and asked if I would come. The man who died was deaf, mentally challenged, had multiple health problems prior to his death and apparently had no family--at least none who visited him. There must have been thirty or forty people who came to the cemetary to pay their respects and to mourn his passing--some care recipients like he had been, some people who provided care for him. It was obvious that the man was loved by each person present.
I was simply the facilitator, the one who read the Scriptures, prayed the prayers and said a few words about him, but I knew my presence was appreciated. Services like that touch lives; they remind me what ministry is all about. It is taking or making time to share God's love with those in crisis or who grieve. It is taking the hand of a hospital patient to pray with them; it is listening when no one else can or will. I love the teaching and preaching aspects of ministry and I love pastoral care. I cannot imagine ministry where all three are not present.
Sunday I'm preaching on the lost things in Luke 15--the lost sheep, a lost coin and the lost son. As I sat here a little while ago going over my sermon and thinking about the day, I was reminded that I thought ministry had been "lost" for me when we moved here. There have been months of rest and recuperation from illness, chemo and even a broken ankle and foot and some days it seemed I would never do anything, but sit and receive from others. I don't do that well. My prayers to be a servant seemed to stop at the ceiling. Deep down I knew God was hearing and that He was answering, but I still grumbled. Today, in that cemetary, I knew that ministry was not lost. It's been there all along in the midst of the blessings of children, grandchildren, new friends, teaching and preaching opportunities and the time to enjoy each of them. God does indeed work in mysterious ways.