I spent the afternoon visiting a few congregants. At first, I was overwhelmed trying to fit everything in. I knew I had reading to get done and emails to answer and errands to run. But as I drove, I realized I needed to set all of that aside because I was about to enter revered space. I was going into people’s homes and hospital rooms. One who has been recovering from intense surgery. One who is mourning the sudden and tragic loss of her husband. One who is battling a harsh diagnosis from a hospital bed. It occurred to me that I was humbled, and I always need to be humbled, by the work I get to do. It is a significant part of my job to simply be with people. It’s actually my favorite part of my job to simply be with people. I am invited into some of the most devastating, most challenging, most sacred spaces in people’s lives. I don’t take that lightly.
But as I made my way from place to place, I was struck by something all 3 of them said to me, multiple times while sitting with them. “Thank you for taking the time to be with me.” Somehow they were grateful for me. I fall short as a pastor in so many ways, and still they were grateful for me. My visit was not an expectation or an obligation or a job but some kind of gift. I couldn’t believe they would take time to thank me for something that is such a privilege for me.
Today was the most beautiful representation of community, which is ironically what I’m preaching on in a sermon series for the next 6 weeks. In the end, it’s not about who is honored or who receives the credit or who is going through a harder time than anyone else. It’s all about being together. It’s about dividing our sorrows and sharing our joys. It’s about seeing and loving your neighbor. Taking just a small ounce of time to be with one another. No distractions, no expectations, no distance. Just presence. And that makes all of the difference. For both parties. We need each other. And like I preached last week, there will be moments when we are so overwhelmed with fear and doubt and hurt that all we can do is grab the hand of the person with us and pray. So today I realized the very least we can do is be that hand and be that partner for the people with whom we are blessed to do life.
So as I continue to work on “delighting” in 2019, I want to continue to be humbled by the work I get to do. I want to continue to be present with people. I want to continue to let the people around me fill me up when I am low or uncertain or fearful. Let’s work on it together.