Monday, March 24, 2008

Mt. Airy Charge Easter 2008

March 23rd 2008, Easter Sunday and my birthday. The last time Easter was on March 23rd was in 1913 and the next time it happens will be in 2160. I wasn't around for the last time and I won't be around for the next. So, today is a day of firsts. My first Easter Sunday / Birthday combination. My first Easter as a pastor. My first Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, and Sunrise services as a pastor. So it was a special day for me on top of being a special day in itself.

Our Easter Sunrise Service was at St. Andrews at 7:00. Joanne and I had to make it out of the house by 6 to get there on time and we barely made it. Well we actually left at 6:15 and I had to really hustle, (God was merciful that there were no State Police, Sheriffs, or deer out) but we made it. There were folks walking in the church laughing and saying, "Well we can't be too late we got here before the preacher!"
I was glad to see folks from the other churches there. It was a blessing to see members from all 3 churches attending the Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, and Sunrise Services during this week.
Joane wanted to get a shot of the preacher his first Easter Sunday on the job. The fact is I was sweating bullets and the outside temp was around 40. I think that it being Easter made me want to get it right. If I can ever stop trying to get it right, I may just get it right.
Folks got a kick that Jo and I were both wearing pink. We hadn't planned it, but it did make us look rather coordinated. We were actually lucky to be wearing matching socks and shoes.
After the Sunrise Service there was a big breakfast for those willing to get up this early. We had eggs, sausage and ham biscuits, muffins, fruit, and lots of orange juice and coffee. We were enjoying the food and fellowship so much we almost forget that we had to be at Republican Grove at 9:00. But, we made it there on time.

At Providence UMC after service we had an Easter Egg Hunt. Fred and Theresa Reiger's grandchildren were with us. Providence was the only church where I got to use my Easter Children's message. We had packed two candy packs and realized we needed four. So, Joanne ran back to the car and packed two more, while I stalled the service for a few minutes.

They hid the eggs in plain view at the ends of the pews. I was hilarious watching the kids look in all the harder places to hide stuff and walk right by the ones out in the open. I guess when you expect something to be difficult and hidden, you don't recognize it when it easy to get and so obvious. Ooh, that'll preach!

It had been a very busy week. Last Sunday, after the morning services and having lunch and a nice visit with the Reigers, we went to visitation for a member of Republican Grove who had died Friday night. Monday was the funeral in Brookneal, with the burial at the church cemetery. This was my second funeral in two weeks. Thursday night we had Maunday Thursday Service at Republican Grove. Friday night we were at Providence for Good Friday Tenebrae Service. The Sunday we had Sunrise Service at St. Andrews and Easter Services at Republican Grove and Providence at there regular times.

After Monday I needed the Thursday, Friday, and early Sunday. There is an old song by Carmen that says, "It may feel like Friday night, but Sunday is on the way!" Monday was the Friday night for me, the rest of the week with all the services drew me back to Sunday. That was where I should of been all the time.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Starry, Starry Night

You know something I really like about going out in the country? They got real stars! In the city if you look up in the sky and think you're seeing the stars, you're not. Mostly what you see are satellites and planes. You think you're looking at a star, only to notice its blinking and moving across the sky. The lights of the city keep you from seeing the incredible display of the heavens. Ever tried to see the Big Dipper with satellites? I really like looking at real stars.

Friday, March 7, 2008

First Funeral

This past Tuesday, March 4, I performed my first funeral as pastor of the Mount Airy Charge. It has been something I expectedto eventually have to do, but have been dreading since I was first assigned. A member of St. Andrews UMC died late Saturday night. I had been to visit him numerous times since last July; in the hospital, at the rehab facility, and at home. While he had been through a lot and was very ill, when you would walk in the room you wouldn't get the impression that he was sick. He was the healthiest looking sick person I had ever seen.

When he died I didn't feel totally comfortable with the possibility of giving the eulogy. I sincerely prayed that God would get me through this somehow. I had gotten to know him somewhat, but didn't feel I was right one to do it. Fortunately they asked a former pastor of St. Andrews UMC to do that duty. That pastor had known him for over 40 years; they were friends and had hunted together many times. They had a history, that I lacked. He was just who was needed. A prayer answered. We also had the pastor of his son to take a part in the service. So we had a retired Methodist pastor, a Baptist pastor, and me doing various parts of the service. Oh, I had best not forget the pianist; Joanne played the piano.

The church was full. It is a good measure of a person when so many come to pay their respects. The Renan Volunteer Fire Department was there. He had been a member of the volunteer fire department for 40 years. After the funeral we went to the cemetery. The big red fire truck led the way with lights flashing. The Sheriff's Department met us at every intersection, led us through Altavista and out onto Route 29. They did a excellent job. We were concerned that it might start to rain, but it held off until after we were all done.

My concern was that I would get it right my first time for the family. When it was over I felt like I could breathe again. Everything went off as it should. No one dragged on too long or messed up their part. I really don't relish the opportunity to do another one any time soon, but I know God will get me through, just like He always does.