Monday, March 26, 2012

IN WHICH BEAR HAS A STRANGE SUNDAY, AND PONDERS

As usual on Sundays, Bear went to morning worship this morning.  Yet things were anything but usual. And that left me wondering.

To understand, we have to go back to last Sunday, and progress through the week. 

Last Sunday, our Pastor, B, noted there were some tasks which needed to be done to help with worship on Sundays.

People were needed to fold the bulletins, which contain the prayers and readings for our worship service, as well as some notices of coming events. Having been the minister of small congregations, where I was both pastor and church secretary, I've had lots of experience with folding bulletins. So I was happy to let others have the experience.

People were also needed to do some getting and ushering. My only experience with ushering was in getting a family of ducks across a busy street. The problem was that the ducklings could not climb up the curb when they go to the far side. So, I had to toss the fluff balls on webbed feet over the curb so they could follow their mom to the river, about a hundred yards further on. I didn't think people needed to be thrown over the curb at church, so I passed on that one.

So, I left B a note saying that I wouldn't take on some the requested tasks, but if he ever wanted or needed to take a Sunday off (in addition to his holidays), I would lead worship for him, even on short notice. Which seemed a reasonable offer from a retired pastor. Fits with my skills, and what I would like to do, and what the congregation might need. 

During the week, I focused on being physically active. And on getting stronger, through the things I had learned in the pain management course. I started to feel that I was coming alive again!

On Wednesday, I had tea at the local coffee shop. BC was the principal of a theological school before his retirement. He had been one of my teachers, then my thesis supervisor, now my friend. We always have interesting conversations about things ethical. In this case, challenges facing many churches, particularly problems with leadership, and leaders.

On Thursday, I went to have tea with some friends at another church. It's a place where I used to have tea regularly, but missed for several weeks because I was attending the Chronic Pain Clinic's program on pain management.  The priest there told me of some major issues that had arisen since I last had tea there. Leadership issues. I just listened to her. It was really sad. I chatted a bit, and gave her a big hug. We always give each other hugs when we meet.

I decided that I should get a hair cut — at the shop right around the corner from that church. I was feeling fairly scruffy, and thought it was, maybe, about time.

The world changed, Friday after supper. B, our minister, was having problems. I thought he had those things under control; I was wrong. He is really not well. He is going to be away from us for a while, getting some rest and other care.

And would I lead worship this Sunday?

Well, having promised, I could't very well say no. Especially when I had no reason to say "No," and lots of reason to say "Yes." 

And so it was.

Everything was ready for the service, except the sermon. So, on Saturday, I gathered some thoughts to share this morning.

Things were different. B had arranged for new members to be received, but I really didn't know what had been planned. So, after two members of the Church Board had explained what was going on with B's absence, our lay leader and I did what was appropriate. I explained to the folks that I wasn't sure what was going to happen, but I knew our worship would be good. And it was. Even if not quite the way we would have done it usually.

By the way, I spoke about living in interesting times (as per the Chinese curse), the kinds of times we were experiencing in the world and the congregation. And how we turn those "interesting" times into times of blessing, by relying on God love of us, and working together as God's people.

But.

But I kept wondering. The feeling of being stronger, the joy of feeling stranger, and the commitment to stay stronger. The talk about church leadership on Wednesday morning. The conversation of Thursday. Getting a hair cut. Last Sunday's promise, and the phone call on Friday night — I had never dreamed that B would actually need on take me up on that — and certainly not this quickly. All in all, an interesting series of coincidences.

Or. . . .

29 comments:

Lydia said...

.....or it was a week directed by The Director! I call happenstances like this Ironies and Cosmic Moments, (or ICMs for short).

The Broad said...

How does it go -- about God works in mysterious ways, his wonders to behold? Sounds like your are 'in hand', doesn't it?

Diana said...

I truly believe that there is a specific road that God has planned out for each and everyone of us. Weather or not we choose the right way to go when we reach a crossroad is another thing altogether. But I think if we listen and pray carefully, the right way will expose itself to us. At least that's how it seems to work for me.
I find it strange at times where that path has taken me but I do know that I have been blessed more often than not for following it. There was a time or two I chose the wrong road, fortunately I learned from it and God again, pointed me in the right direction.
It sounds as though there was a little unexpected curve in your road Bear. And you stayed on coarse! Many people will be blessed by your navigation.
By the way, being church secretary, I'm the one that prints , folds and stuffs the bulletins among many other little things!! I love my job!! Love Di ♥
P.S. I was not aware that Bears did hair cuts, LOL!!

Chatty Crone said...

Maybe it was God's plan all the time. sandie

ain't for city gals said...

Yes indeed,,how your life has changed...all for the good. I am happy for you. Reminds me of one of my favorite sayings..God helps those who help themselves. Most people are waiting for God to make things happen...I think God is waiting for us!

rosaria said...

Be careful what you wish for...
Or, is it, don't overextend...
Or, you never stop being who you are!
Yeah, that last one is the right comment! I end up doing lessons and demonstrations in this or that and you end up preaching. It's who we are.
I bet the actual sermon you delivered was warm and touching, and based on real problems of the time.

I'm not a religious person any more, but I'd stop in and soak up the atmosphere of this congregation.

Rob-bear said...

® rosaria: Thanks for your kindness. Wonderful quote: "You never stop being who you are!"

Either that, or W. C. Fields: "There comes a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation."


Actually, I very much prefer what you've written. Thanks again.

About Last Weekend said...

You live a very full life and as the cliche goes - if you need something done or said properly, give it to a busy person - that is you! I have become so unreligious - we went to church all the times as kids and I do remember the excitement of being involved in the mass and bringing up the offerings. Still I have yet to find a church service which I find to be exciting (except for Glide here in San Fran) but maybe they are not supposed to be exciting....

Helen said...

Bear, I don't believe in coincidence! I would grab Rosaria from the Oregon coast, soak up some of that atmosphere!

ReformingGeek said...

Loved this post!

That's right. Or....

Yeah. Sometimes karma is dharma.

I'm sure you were beary good on Sunday and not too scary at all!

Rob-bear said...

® about last weekend: Really, Jody, I'm retired, and I'm not that busy. Deciding what clothes to wear is the major and most time-consuming decision most days, and I only have a few shirts and pants.

Actually, I do try to make things at least marginally exciting. "Make 'em laugh, make 'em cry, make 'em stand up and say, 'Yes!'" That, I suppose, is the three-part goal. Yesterday, I said that our congregation was like our provincial football team. Folks understood that much.

Really, I'm not that eloquent. But I am trying. Some say very trying.

The Blog Fodder said...

Some day, Old Bear, I would like to be in your congregation. I would not fall asleep either.
I was introduced to this blog a few weeks ago and find it very good for me.
http://markbuchanan.net/2012/03/23/behold-the-lamb/

Rob-bear said...

® Helen: Off to the west coast of Oregon! I'll meet you at Rosaria's place for some "atmosphere." Yeah!!! Sounds fantastic. Thanks.

One problem. Getting there will probably wear me out for a week. I've got a lot of mountains to climb and rivers to ford before I reach Rosaria's. That's a lot of travel to Bear for some atmosphere.

® ReformingGeek: Thanks for the supportive note.

The folks were able to Bear my presence yesterday and at least put up with my thoughts. Next, they'll ask for an encore. I can feel it coming. I'll let you know what happens,

Rob-bear said...

® The Blog Fodder: Thanks. I'd love to see you sometime. Too bad you're about half a world away from where I am.

I'll check the blog you noted. If it got your attention, it must be good.

Diana said...

Well I was here this morning and left a long comment. I guess it didn't post, I probably did something wrong so early in the morn!! Anywho what I said Bear was that I truly believe that God has a plan for all of us. Sometimes we go of coarse as to be expected but if we listen and pray hard enough, I always see to find the answer that he is trying to show me.
What that thought has to do with your post I have no idea, it just popped into my head when I read it!!
BTW, being church secretary, I am the one that prints, folds and stuffs the bulletins every week among a bunch of other things!! I love my job!! Love Di ♥

Hilary said...

Ahh the Universe had this one lined up for you, for sure.

The Bipolar Diva said...

what a week you've had! I'm so glad you're feeling stronger and I would have loved to be there when you led worship! Times are interesting, Bear, they are indeed interesting.

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Rob-bear said...

® Diana: Sorry that your original comment didn't stay with us. You say the nicest things.

Church secretaries are worth their weight in gold, and flowers. Both. They do so many good things for congregations, and help their ministers in so many ways that nobody knows about. I'm so glad you love your job, and the new knees that help you stand up and do it.

Thanks.

® Hilary: The Universe, is kind, but peculiar. Like a certain Bear of our acquaintance.

I thoroughly enjoy your photos, and hope to see more of them. We have a Great Blue Heron who has inhabited this part of the river for several years. If I can see it, and shoot it (with my camera), I'll send you a picture.

susan said...

I'm sorry to hear your pastor is ill but along with you I'll hope for his early recovery. It's wonderful you were prepared and able to help when such was really needed. As they say, The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways.

Rob-bear said...

® susan: Thank you for your kindness, to me and to our minister.

As for the Lord working in mysterious ways, that may be entirely true, but right now I could stand a bit less mystery in my life.

lgsquirrel said...

Surely not coincidences but God's gentle prodding. Incidentally, this was the sermon message at my church last Sunday from Matthew 10:26-28 "Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

It happens to be about serving in humility.

Rob-bear said...

® lgsquirrel: Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Someone once said that coincidences occur when God chooses to act anonymously.

Lins' lleisio said...

How I'd like to sit in your congregation... it just may be a tad too far for me to come on a Sunday morn. It's destiny - pure and simple. It's what you were born to do it seems.

Rob-bear said...

® Lins' Lleisio:

Shw mae. And thanks.

You would certainly be welcome to come here. And I would enjoy seeing you. But, yes, it is a bit to a trek to get here, on this side of the pond and all.

I intend to keep on with what I enjoy doing until I don't enjoy it any longer. I suspect that approach will be good for quite a while.

Better is Possible said...

No coincidence.
Blessings to you, Rob.

Shannon King said...

Yes life can give us a lot of interesting stuff to use...lol..by the way I love the quote about coincidences occur when God chooses to act anonymously. You seem to be good at loving on people like Pastors do...blessings

DJan said...

It's very interesting to hear how you phrase things, Rob-Bear. I wish too that I could be in your congregation and listen to you make me laugh and cry. But this blog is a good substitute, after all. I see you now have 110 followers!

Rob-bear said...

OH, dear. I just relayed that I had not replied to your very kind notes. I am so sorry, as I enjoy getting your thoughts; they are supportive and encouraging. But as you may suspect, things are a bit different right now.

So:

® The Broad: I think "perform" is the word. Whatever. Mysteries are the nature of God, so I never know what to expect. Which is OK.

® Diana: Life is interesting, challenging, and puzzling. I keep doing the best I can, and wondering what will happen next.

® Chatty Crone; Your thought crossed my mind. Almost like I was getting "set up" for something. Fortunately, God (1) is kind, and (2) has a sense of humour.

® ain't for city girls: I sometimes wonder how God is able to put up with how slowly we move. Sigh!

® Diva: It was, indeed, quite the week. Would love it if you could be here.