For those of you not on Facebook, this year at the encouragement of a seminary classmate I shared an item of appreciation for ministry each day of the month. The following are my posts from Pastor Appreciation Month, also known as October.
Day 1: I appreciate the volunteer who on Sunday presented a new mission project in partnership with another congregation. I am thankful for new ideas, courage to try them, and a willingness to expand our relationships.
Day 2: I appreciate the volunteers who serve Home Communion to our members. Today a visit was full of appreciation for the team who served yesterday. I enjoy hearing stories of how the members of our community are caring for each other.
Day 3: I appreciate the steadfastness of those around me in the face of our personal and communal pain. In this inter-generational community the strength of those older than me, hope of those younger than me, and energy of those of my age teaches me daily how we are to work for peace as an answer to the call of Christ.
Day 4: I appreciate the joy shared in the stands as we adults watch the children of our community learn new skills. Watching the children who light the candles on Sunday morning pass a basketball, guard another player, and encourage each other while being cheered on by the members of the congregation they helped lead in worship makes me (as those kids tell me) feel all the good feels.
Day 5: I appreciate the act of having coffee. I appreciate all the time and stories shared that build our life together.
Day 6: I appreciate the connections made with others through seminary, conferences, meetings, and other events that allow me to grow in understanding of the vastness of this world and God’s action. I appreciate the advances in technology which allow me to keep those connections.
Day 7: I appreciate the prayers shared for my family. In particular the prayers from yesterday of a 90+ year old mother for my almost 16 year old new driver. The words and prayers that build up my children are powerful and appreciated.
Day 8: I appreciate the Parish Nurse Program and those who began and sustain that program in our community. I appreciate how our nurses worked to include an anointing prayer each month for those community members in need.
Day 9: I appreciate the work of the volunteers who lead our youth group. These volunteers are many and change from time to time but always they work to provide opportunities for our youth to grow in faith and understanding. I am thankful I get to work alongside them.
Day 10: I appreciate the harvest season scenes as I drive.
Day 11: I appreciate the opportunity to join others in committee meetings. I enjoy the exchange of ideas and the excitement of dreaming and planning shared work.
Day 12: I appreciate the childhood given to me by my parents and the US Military. A childhood which showed me a diverse world full of unique individuals all doing the best they could to make this world more inclusive, free, and peaceful. My understanding of freedom and unity in Christ comes from those early years when I learned about the reality of racism through the experiences of my friends, classmates, and neighbors. It is thanks to those years that I know about the privileges I have been given, and my responsibility to work to eradicate injustice. That knowledge makes all the difference as I answer the call to ministry.
Day 13: I appreciate head thrown back, deep laughter and the many opportunities I have in a week to share those kind of moments.
Day 14: I appreciate how inviting conversation results in connection and understanding. I appreciate the many people who have engaged in conversation with me over the years and the manner in which their stories have broadened my knowledge, and taught me compassion.
Day 15: I appreciate the time and effort our elected representatives of UCW (aka elders on Session) have put into studying the PCUSA’s “Book of Confessions” and Bonhoeffer’s “Cost of Discipleship” this year. Their willingness to read and discuss these resources has been life-giving to this pastor who sometimes misses classroom discussions.
Day 16: I appreciate that I get to be a part of some of the big moments in the lives of the children under our care. I get to see them shortly after birth, at baptism, at confirmation, at graduations, at ordination, at their wedding, and upon the birth of their own children, to name a few. It is one of the most precious gifts of this call to ministry to be the pastor who speaks words of grace and love at all those moments.
Day 17: I appreciate the students (and the adults who come with them) who get on the school bus at the church building. I enjoy listening to their chatter and watching them grow taller.
Day 18: I appreciate the creators in our community. I have witnessed the creation of books, quilts, artwork, buildings, gardens, fields, and music to name a few. I am thankful for the opportunity to see the talents of others bring beauty and function to this world.
Day 19: I appreciate all of the people who make Sunday mornings happen. Attempting to not double count a person, and checking my math with the math teacher, a typical Sunday takes approximately 50 people to make sure we have Sunday School classes and a worship service. Add in the choir, Communion servers, any people needed for a special event, and the number climbs even higher. Thank you all.
Day 20: I appreciate the parents who recognize being a pastor does not mean God gave me perfect parenting skills or children. I am thankful to share the realities of raising compassionate and responsible human beings with these wise and hilarious parents.
Day 21: I appreciate how some of our youngest members in town recognize my face and associate it with happy times even when they do not remember my name. I am thankful for the exclamations of, “I know you! Do you remember me?” Yes, I remember you and I am thankful to know you.
Day 22: I appreciate the people from all parts of my life who traveled to Woodhull in body and spirit eleven years ago to join the community here in worship. Eleven years ago I was ordained as Minister of Word and Sacrament/Teaching Elder in the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and installed as pastor at United Church of Woodhull in a crowded sanctuary full of singing, laughter, and prayers. I knew it was a life-altering day in the moment, and I know it still. As those wiser than me have said before, “This is not a job, this is a life.” Thank you to those who led worship that day, who saw in me what I could not see myself. I am thankful for you.
Day 23: I appreciate the storytellers who lay bare my heart through word and song. They inspire me to live with eyes, heart, and mind wide open eagerly searching for Light in darkness.
Day 24: I appreciate my cell phone and how it has contributed to my ability to serve this community.
Day 25: I appreciate study days and learning something new.
Day 26: I appreciate the rhythm of this life.
Day 27: I appreciate the act of sitting around a table with my colleagues and praying together.
Day 28: I appreciate all the people who produce our monthly newsletter, Sunday bulletin, congregation and garden Facebook pages, website, and YouTube channel. I am thankful for all the work done to share our stories.
Day 29: I appreciate that I have the freedom to serve in ordained office.
Day 30: I appreciate the peaceful silence of the church building early in the morning.
Day 31: I appreciate the shared hope for things to come. I am thankful there are always people in the community able to hold hope for those unable to find it.
Thank you once again UCW for letting me be your partner in ministry.