For the past couple of Sundays my husband, who is a pastor, has been back preaching. Raymond has been through a major health crisis this summer. He is so happy to be back in church. He is warmly welcomed, and I rejoice to see him in his accustomed place.
However, at two of the churches he serves, he is not yet able to climb the steps. I, Mary, his sidekick, helpmeet, and backup person, am for the time being leading worship and preaching. It has been four and a half years since December of 2008 when I retired from the ministry. I wondered how it would feel to return to the pulpit—and stand there and look upon the faces of my beloved brothers and sisters.
I think that joy is essential to any calling. Having concluded long ago that I am suited more to writing than to speaking, I am surprised and delighted that God has given me this joy once again.
Here is the first poem of mine ever published; it appeared in the September/October 2004 issue of Nebraska Life and is included in my chapbook The Zebra’s Friend. The poem speaks of the holy task of preaching.
A Preacher In Church
Like shining pennies tossed into a well,
along with wishes, blessings, and my prayers,
the words of good-news gospel that I tell—
I see them just before they disappear
beneath the surface, out of hearing’s way,
beyond the farthest reaches of recall,
where, like the coins of passersby, they stay
well-hidden, as though never heard at all.
Yet now and then I see the Spirit’s light
in understanding deeper than my own
upon your faces—faith made sight,
a flash of recognition. This alone
is quite enough to keep me standing here
with pennies every Sabbath all these years.