A Day in the Life of a Pastor
The day began as an ordinary Sunday, but with one contrasting detail from the previous weeks: the bitter cold and biting wind had given way to pleasant temperatures and a gentle breeze. As the pastor strolled from the parsonage to the church, the morning sun glistening on the melting snow and a song bird could be heard off in the distance; the perfect icing to match a perfect day. He smiled in anticipation at the joyful task that lay before him – the proclamation of Christ’s atoning sacrifice to bring salvation to those who trust in Him. As he customarily did, the pastor spent those twenty minutes before the start of the service welcoming worshipers while mentally running through the carefully crafted words of the sermon. Just before the start of the ringing of the bell, the time came for the pastor to don his liturgical vestments, as was his habit to do so during the opening hymn; but upon entering the sacristy, a sudden wave of panic washed over him.
Incidentally, on the Wednesday evening of the previous week, he had been the guest preacher at a nearby church; as chance would have it, on this particular Sunday morning, his vestments weren’t hanging in the sacristy closet, but still tucked away in his vestment bag and lying in the back seat of his car. Silently cursing his forgetfulness while simultaneously grateful that the substitute organist plays at a more leisurely tempo than the regular organist, he dashed out the back door and began sprinting across the still snow-covered lawn. Now mind you, leather-soled boots are never ideal footwear for running, especially in the snow, and as he approached a deep drift left by the recent winter storms, his choice in footwear and path of travel proved to be an unfortunate combination, causing him to lose his footing and tumble towards the ground. Fortunately the impact of his sudden but predictable spill was gently broken by the deep snow, and unharmed and determined, he quickly sprang to his feet, slowed his pace, and arrived at his vehicle without further incident.
After quickly retrieving his vestment bag, he began his return trek toward the back door of the church, careful not to step in the numerous patches of mud and slime left by the quickening thaw. Upon returning to the sacristy, he began to feel his age and physical fitness. He deeply regretted that hasty dash across the snow covered grass; he was in no shape to be doing such a thing in the first place, and it had left him quite out of breath. Yet, thanks be to God (and no thanks to his absent mindedness), he had managed to return to the sacristy and get robed up just as the organist played the final notes of the opening hymn.
As the breathless pastor stepped into the chancel, he gave himself the only advice that seemed sane, considering the circumstances. If I just speak slow enough, I might be able to sneak in an extra breath here and there, and people won’t realize anything different, he thought to himself. Then that cynical voice of reason told him, yeah right, because talking slower than you ever have before won’t seem weird to anyone at all. Slowly but surely, his rapid breathing pace eased and things seemed to be in the clear, but it was all for naught.
Luck was not on the side of the absent-minded pastor. It just so happens that in addition to being terribly out of shape, the pastor had a long history of asthma. Though it had been quite mild for most of his adult years, that sudden rigorous activity had triggered a mild asthma attack that seemed to compound the breathless state that his mad dash had left him in. Bound and determined, he kept up the façade that everything was fine, struggling through the scripture readings and the recitation of the creed. He silently pleaded in desperation to the Lord, beseeching Him to mercifully preserve him and deliver him through what was developing into quite the ordeal. Yet God is merciful, and it seemed to that hapless pastor that God had given him a tenfold measure of mercy that morning.
The sermon hymn that he had selected for that morning, “Lord, Thee I Love With All My Heart,” isn’t exactly a short hymn; and considering the slow cadence at which the organist played, it seemed like a God-given opportunity to return to the parsonage and fetch his rescue inhaler. This time though, he walked at a reasonably sane speed. Once he had the inhaler in hand, he took a few puffs, slipped it into his pocket, and managed to get back in plenty of time before the conclusion of the sermon hymn.
What had begun as the perfect Sunday, yet deteriorated into a miserable catastrophe, by the grace of God came full circle as the pastor recovered enough to conduct the rest of the service without incident. Though feeling a bit drained, compared to those moments following that initial ill-fated mad sprint, he felt like a young man in his prime. Much to his relief, only a handful of people had noticed that something was amiss, and it appeared as if most in attendance that morning were none the wiser. God is always merciful, and His mercy was in abundance that particular morning. With the pastor’s misfortune came a valuable lesson: a pastor should never forget his vestments in his car, but if he does, he’d better pray that his organist plays with the swiftness of a snail.