It's been a really long nine days for me. It all started at 6:45am last Sunday morning when my phone rang. It was our church organist, Pat, and she tells me that her husband Ron passed away. Ron was a beloved member of LPC, a current elder, sang in the choir, and I had traveled with him to Mississippi back in February. To top it all off, I was in charge on Sunday since Amy was out of town. After wrapping my mind around what just happened, I made my way over to the church, mentally preparing myself to be the one who needed to tell people about Ron. I called Amy & our choir director, Matt. Before the first service, I pulled aside as many elders & people who I knew had a connection with Ron to tell them first before I made the announcement at the beginning of the service. Then, we needed someone to play the piano for the service & thank goodness someone stepped up. When I announced it, there was this audiable gasp. It broke my heart. I changed the liturgy & my sermon on my feet, trying to pay tribute to this incredible person, who I've gotten to know over these last nine months. The service went fine & by the time the second service began, everyone had heard the news. Needless to say, I could not wait for it to be over.
I visited with the family after church & Amy arrived soon afterwards. We listened to Pat, his wife & his daughter Marie tell us about what happened & about Ron's life. When I got home that afternoon, I simply collapsed onto the couch. I felt like there was nothing left inside of me to give. I'd been responsible for too much that day.
As I made my way through the next few days, I took time to grieve for Ron. I knew him well, had many conversations with him, and learned so much from him. He was a brilliant man, studied astronomy, and worked as a systems engineer for orbiting observatories including the Hubble Space Telescope. But, Ron was also a man of deep faith. He worked on so many different projects around the church & had just started a term as an elder back in January.
The visitation was Thursday night. There were so many people there. I know Pat, Marie, and his son Mark were comforted by the presence of so many friends. Ron's memorial service was on Friday morning. It was a beautiful service, filled with music & words about his life. This sums it all up: "He taught us all how to use our minds to serve God, and we give thanks that he has been called home to his Maker, where he can contemplate the workings of the universe."
I know that I learned a lot in these last nine days about ministry. And, I know that I am capable of handling crises in the moment. It was also a humbling experience for me.
I'm tired. That is an understatement. This work is so personal, you put so much of your heart & yourself into your ministry. If you are not careful, you can be completely drained. I don't think I'm there, but I know I need some time to refresh, replenish, and recharge.
Thanks be to God for the life of Ron. May he have eternal rest cradled in the arms of God.