April 8, 2020
In Mark’s Gospel Jesus is baptized, collects his initial group of disciples, and heals a man in the synagogue. Then “as soon as they left the synagogue” (1:29), Jesus goes to the house of Simon and Andrew and heals Simon’s mother-in-law. That evening at sunset they brought all who were sick and possessed with demons. It was a full day.
Early the next morning, while it was still very dark (1:35), Jesus gets up and slips out to a deserted place to pray. It didn’t work; his disciples come looking for him, and when they find him they complain: “Everyone is searching for you” (1:27). So they hit the road for neighboring towns. And so goes Mark’s Gospel; Jesus seems to breathlessly race through his days with a sense of urgency.
Pastors sometimes feel this way, racing from need to need, person to person. In these days of social distancing the stress is even greater. They must find creative and sometimes awkward ways to do what needs to be done.
When Debbie and I went through missionary orientation, our leader made us write with our non-dominant hand for several weeks. He said this is what it is like working in another culture. When things were challenging on the mission field, Debbie or I would say to the other: “I’m working with left hand here.”
I have watched our faithful pastors teach Bible studies and craft worship experiences online. (The production values are improving impressively each week as we all quickly progress along the learning curve!) I have heard them strategize about how to do funerals, pastoral care, and stay connected with their flock during our period of social distancing.
Our pastors are working with their non-dominant hands, trying to get the ministry done in new ways. They are experimenting; not all efforts will be successes right away.
As your pastor is busy taking care of others, can you take a minute to encourage them? Send an email, make a call, or make a card (don’t go buy one at the store) and mail it.
These are stressful times for all of us. Pastors tend to absorb into themselves the stress of others. Reach out and give them a pat on the back – figuratively for the time being.
(Yes, he’s supposed to be on sabbatical. It’s hard to keep a good man down.)