A few weeks ago several Columbia District clergy and I went to Mt. Mitchell and fellowshipped. We even went down the mountain for Thursday Night College Football. How we got back in the gate at the park is another story, and one worth telling sometime. We needed that time together sharing and having fun. Unfortunately, our life together has low moments, too. I just came back from a hospital room as proof.
However, I just saw our covenant community as clergy in action again. One of the pastors in my district just found out that he has acute leukemia. Tomorrow he starts 24/7 aggressive chemo. We’re not at all sure about the prognosis. I spent time with him and his wife last night and again today. Their faith is strong, but they are shell-shocked. I have been working with his church since last night to cover the ministry needs, and I hope the church rallies around him. It has been a tough appointment, not because the people are unChristian. They are wonderful, but they are still grieving the moving of their former pastor of 13 years. That has brought out the usual grief-related potshots at the current pastor, and the adage “Don’t let worry kill you, let the church help” has been too true in this situation. My prayer is that healing comes to the pastor and the church.
At the hospital a few minutes ago another one of our clergy came into the room with Bible and Communion elements in hand. He read poignantly from Psalm 20 – Read it! I have never felt the power of those words of comfort so eloquently read. I gave the Great Thanksgiving and we communed in a way far deeper than I have experienced the sacrament in a long time. When United Methodist clergy start our ministry our membership is transferred from our local church to the Annual Conference. The Annual Conference becomes our church home. I saw it today and I am wonderfully encouraged. May God grant us all a support community where we find sanctuary. Amen.