Yet Another Funeral -
I am ready for a couple of months with no funeral.
The one Thursday is an elderly man whom I visited once last month and was planning to visit again this week. Only he died before I could visit again.
It was unexpected. He was a gruff, salty kinda guy with fuzzy memories that Alzheimer's brings. I didn't even know about him 'til middle to late January, when his SIL called and mentioned he could use a visit. I've been visiting that nursing home for over a year and nobody told me. Course, he hasn't darkened the church probably for 30 or more years. His daughter remembers coming to church when she "was little."
I'm beginning to feel like an angel of death. Most everyone I've visited in the nursing homes have died and some I visited at home.
I'm beginning to feel scared to visit to visit the homebound and the last remaining one in the nursing home, for fear it won't be long until they too, pass away and join the church triumphant.
I'll be known as the interim who brought death to members rather than life. I've lost more members than have been gained during this interim.
That's probably happened in most every church I've served.
It's not that I haven't reached out and spent time ministering to non-members. They just haven't joined. It also seemed that every visitor to whom I sent a note thanking them for worshipping with us and an invitation to call me, should they have a need, was never met by someone joining the church. All the members who have joined did so, by the invitation of a member of the church.
In my 26 years of ministry, that's not much of a track record. But, I know, that in some ways, I have brought Christ a little closer to them in their time of need. The rest, of course, is in God's hands. I am not an evangelist by any stretch of the imagination, although, I do tell the good news of Jesus Christ in my preaching, in my praying, in my visiting the lonely and the homebound and the sick, in the confirmation class, etc.
I just don't appreciate this mantle of the harbringer of death I seem to be wearing lately. It is unsettling, unnerving.
Just a couple months more and I pray onto a new place to serve...May I bring life and the promise of new life into this week, into the funeral, into wherever I will be blessed to serve next.