Saturday was a painful and beautiful day for so many persons in Girdwood. It was the day of the memorial service for a friend, a father, a husband, a coworker who was loved by the community. That evening we had about 350 people crammed into our church…people down the hallway, people just inside the door, people on the floor. There were A LOT of people there. And we remembered our friend. I led this service.
Then we made our way to the Challenge Alaska building where there was a celebration of life, a party, a bonfire, lots of food, a show of community.
While at the celebration I had a number of people approach me and tell me what a good job I did in helping the community deal with this death. And, it wasn’t just a thank you for this particular loss but for all the other times I’ve been there for the community during the various tragedies that have come upon us over these last 12 years.
While I know that clergy love pats on the back for our work (and I’m no exception), I felt awkward in the face of the affirmation. I nodded my head and said that it all worked well and that it was my privilege to serve in this way. It’s nice to hear, but it’s not why I do it. It’s not why I serve.
But it made think. Really, in terms of my ministry in Girdwood, my involvement with the Fire Department and with persons in the face of tragedy has been something I’m most proud of. I think I have done this part of “community pastoring” well. Looking back 20 years I would never have guessed that this aspect of ministry would be among the most rewarding at this time. It’s not fun. But I think it’s been a God-thing, how I entered into pain and tragedy, providing a pastoral presence, re-presenting Christ. It is where I’ve felt most pastoral and has dramatically shaped my understanding of how I see myself as a pastor.
Well, what were other “hits” or “successes?” What were the things I’ve done well that I can “hang my hat on” and know that I “fought the good fight”? Or, perhaps more challenging, what have been my “misses” over 12 years? Where did I fail? Where could I have done better? What do I regret?
Read on to see my two lists!