Letter 1 to Michael

Dear Michael:

It was a great pleasure to have dinner with you and your lovely family last evening.  Your wife is a wonderful cook and the presentation in your dining room was fit for royalty!  Indeed, I think that if you really could be spoiled, you have the optimum opportunity of being so.

I found our conversation very worthwhile.  I promised that I would reflect on some of the things you said about your pastor.  It seems that many of my thoughts on the matter relate to much of what the apostle Paul wrote in his second letter to the Corinthians.  You will recall my mentioning it.

You say that it bothers you when the pastor talks about sensitive, personal issues.  You are uncomfortable when he shows emotion in the pulpit, or when he seems to lean more heavily these days on the theme of encouragement rather than the more philosophical or social matters that you enjoy more.  First of all, friend, let me charge you not to be so self-centered.  Surely it is the case that there are people in your parish who need encouraging, comforting words.  Indeed, it may be that your pastor – through private visits and phone coversations of which you are unaware – knows in detail the stresses or sorrows of his parishoners and is simply trying to apply Paul’s principle here.  He has surely himself experienced sorrow, pain, loss, etc., and has also experienced the comfort that Christ brings his servants (often through illumination of Scripture) and is trying to pass these costly and precious lessons on to the parish.

Have you taken time to reflect upon your pastor’s personal life?  What has it cost him, or his family – immediate or extended –  to be in the ministry, to live in your community, to pastor your church?  I do not know much about the man, but didn’t I hear that he lost his mother last year, and that his father is quite ill?  Then, there was the incident with his teenage son a few months ago.  Thankfully, it was not that serious, but it was certainly enough to alarm a caring parent.  And is the rumour around town true, that a deacon or two at your church are among those unreasonable, cantankerous types that cannot be happy about anything?  No names please!

I think, if you try, you will probably realize that this man must be experiencing that strange mixture of both trouble and the comforting grace of Christ.  It is simply his duty to pass on the personal experience of the comfort of Christ – which by its nature is an emotional thing – to those whom he has been sent in order to do this very thing.

In closing, I hope your pastor has also displayed at least some kind of emotion when he has spoken of Christ and his cross.  A man whose heart is not moved by the greatest display and act of love in all history has no business being in the ministry.  The loving response of our whole being to the gift of the Saviour is what the Christian life is all about.



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