I had an interesting work day recently that seems to me to be begging to be recounted. The day began normally enough. I did my morning routine: exercise, Bible reading, breakfast and so on. But from that point on, the rest of the day was spent running from one thing to another, dealing with bits and pieces that had accumulated and whose execution all fell on the same day.
The first task was to finish preparing the funeral service that was coming that afternoon. Funerals are a part of ministry that are generally unpredictable and so put a serious strain on pastor’s schedules. So, although I had known about this one for three days, I couldn’t work the preparation in to my schedule until the morning of the service. That wasn’t a major problem–I have often pulled the pages off the printer on my way to the funeral. These days, I don’t do that anymore–I transfer the service details from my laptop to the tablet (and to my phone as a backup.)
I finished working on the funeral service just in time to head out to help a congregation member set up for a fund raising event. While that isn’t in my job description, she was a bit desperate because a variety of people who normally help couldn’t make it. Her call the night before was filled with apologies and assurances that if I couldn’t make it, it was okay. But I had the time and since I benefit from the fund raising as much or more than anyone else, I went and helped.
After that, well, I needed to finalize the text for the wedding scheduled for the next day. Weddings, unlike funerals, tend to be scheduled long before hand. This one had actually been scheduled several months earlier. So, how come I was finishing the text the day before the service? Well, the bride and groom wanted to write their own vows and didn’t get them to me until the day before, when I was tied up with other stuff. But getting them done the day before the service–well, that could be classed as long-term planning compared to funeral preparation.
So, next is a quick lunch and a rushed nap (Google the health benefits of a regular nap) before I get ready for the funeral. I arrive at the church building for the funeral, pass some time with the funeral director and greet the family and friends. As people are coming it begins to rain and so we have a quick consultation with the family about holding the committal service in the sanctuary rather than at the graveyard.
After the funeral service, I rush home, make a quick change and head out for the wedding rehearsal. The rain has stopped which is great since this is an outdoor wedding. But the sky is still dark and threatening and I wonder if I should grab a plastic bag to protect my tablet. Haste wins and I risk the rain, which does sprinkle a bit during the rehearsal. The rehearsal goes fairly well, except for the 5-10 minutes I have to spend helping the bride and groom learn how to tie a reef knot for the knot ceremony they want as part of their vows. We figure it out, the tablet remains dry enough to work and everything is ready for tomorrow.
I head for home, having put in a pretty full and varied day. I have done a lot of stuff, connected with a lot of people and managed to get everything done that had pushed itself into this particular day. There are two things that stand out in my mind for this day. First, it was a strange day, even for a pastor. Most days in ministry are a bit more predictable–or at least have fewer unpredictable bits and pieces. Except for the wedding rehearsal, this day was made up almost completely of unpredicted somewhat critical things, almost as if someone shook out the container and dumped all the left-over stuff on the same day.
The second thing that stands out for me about this day? This all happened on a Friday, one of my days off. Not every day off is like this and I will definitely make up for it–but now and then, it happens. But if ministry were totally predictable, that wouldn’t be much fun.
May the peace of God be with you.