"At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.
Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us?"
~ Albert Schweitzer
Ministry, at its core, is a shared endeavor. We all have gifts to share with one another. And, at one time or another, we find ourselves needing the gifts and care of others. Researcher and storyteller, Brenee Brown, says we are hard wired to desire connection, love and belonging. Many of us have found the church to fill that very longing; we come ready to be filled up so that we may send that love and connection back out into the world. Church is a place where we are affirmed for exactly who we are, where we are afforded a special opportunity to walk with one another on this journey of life. We celebrate one another's soaring joys, deep wells of sorrow and life's milestones. We lift up the extraordinary in the ordinary.
In a beloved church community, we can hold one another in love and comfort as well as practical support. I remember the six weeks of meals we received when we welcomed our second child into the world. And many years later, when I had major surgery, members of my congregation provided food, flowers, and treats. Both times we looked forward to the delicious new recipes we'd get to try and also welcomed the companionship and conversation as a beautiful point of connection . What a blessing to be part of such a community.
Ministers, too, are blessed to be present for people during life's most sacred and challenging moments, to walk with people over the course of many years. We can offer spiritual guidance and deep listening. We also work to help strengthen the community so the opportunity to offer pastoral care exists among all. On the practical side, as your minister, I would support the system of pastoral care within the congregation. Having a team (or teams) ready to respond to members' pastoral needs only deepens connections and expands our spiritual lives. Additionally, helping the congregation recognize the role every member can play in pastoral care and support by shoring up the circles of connection and relationship is vital to sustaining care over time.
Just to be with people in their lives is one of the greatest gifts of ministry.