A few weeks ago I was sent a card. Never had one like this before. It was sent to me as Shepherd, or Pastor, of the flock, encouraging me in what we all felt was a tough time caring for a flock that was hurting because of bereavement. I was quite speechless with the care expressed.
Dealing with loss is always different, unexpected, and there’s no comprehensive text book that says this is what you do next. However, every funeral I have ever done has been a privilege. It’s been a process of discovering the love with which a person is held, sharing the story, and playing a small part in the coming to terms with that grief.
I am a pastor, because my calling is to see people change, and to rejoice in that. And change happens in normal life circumstances, not a religious or spiritual bubble.
And All Saints has such a breadth of maturity and experiences, it is a joy to see people minister to one another, sometimes without realising they are doing it.
Part of seeing people grow is letting them go.
For me there’s a strange irony in the fact that we came from here from Bolton; All Saints hosts the Prayer Barn, with links to Bolton; and the new church being planted in Blackpool is being sourced from Bolton.
We share the excitement of those we love who are called to this new adventure. It’s tough, because it doesn’t exist yet, and we naturally want to know that they will indeed flourish there. It has started to happen suddenly, so we are still catching up with the story.
It’s a celebration, but it also a bereavement.
As John said, ‘Children, let’s love one another, because love is of God. It’s in the loving that the fact that we are born of God and know God is made plain.’
Let’s delight the good shepherd. He ain’t heavy, he’s our brother.