Just two days before I was struck by the "crud", cough and cold and had to spend some time at home, away from anyone. It was a time to get ready for the power of Ash Wednesday. So, after some time of sickness and prayer time, I came to worship and was able to lead the church in remembering that indeed we are mortal sinners.
Then, immediately two persons died and I was involved in their funerals. One of the people who died is someone who had been away from this area for over 20 years; the other, was a faithful member of our community of faith. What followed was typical. I met with the out of town family and got to know the person who had died, and then I planned the service. The other person, here and faithful, had a son who was special needs. I went with family and others to tell him, but before we got it out, he guessed why we were there. He asked: "Is something wrong with Dad?" His mother said: "Yes". Then, he asked: "Did daddy die?" His mother nodded her head and we went inside to embrace and pray and do what we do in our humanness.
The two funeral services were both on Sunday afternoon: one at 3pm; the other, at 4:30. Of course, they were at opposite ends of town, but I though I could make it work. We always try to accommodate the families' needs and the funeral homes needs. So, in a weak moment, I agreed.
The 3pm service went well but we were not done at the church until nearly 4pm and then it was almost 4:30 by the time we got everyone to the graveside. So, I did the committal and ran to my car.
I got to the 4:30 service at 4:50 and found a chapel full of people at the Mortuary waiting on me. I ran in and consulted with everyone, apologized, and we got started. An hour later, we had worshipped God and it was a time of celebration and emotional sharing. A number of people shared their love for the deceased and the family.
I went to the door and spoke to as many others as I could. Then, I went to my car to let Mary know that I was on the way home. Exhausted, I collapsed in my chair and ate supper. Watching TV I drifted off to sleep.
It hit me that this was Lent and a time of greater self-giving and love. And, it reminded me that in our humanity we meet the love of God with us. This is what it feels like to give ourselves away for Christ. It is utterly exhausting and wonderfully fulfilling. You've felt that way as you've poured yourself out for family or friends or church. What a way to begin this Season of Lent- on my knees.