There is a bit of danger. An awareness of possible annoyance. A “welcome” sign and a “do not disturb” sign needed to be owned. I am talking about a pastor living next door to (or shouting distance to) the church at which he serves.
I am not talking about my present scenario – I love it here. Though time may force a “do not disturb” sign at one point or another. I get to piggyback internet after all. What I am talking about is the residence I rented across the street from that Chesterfield Parrish called Friendship.
I want to say upfront, I loved the residence – a 50s brick cottage that needed way more closet space. I love the church and the peeps and the time spent there and the relationships and the closeness (of each other and of the facility to my abode).
But there was an occasional “get the pastor next door, he’ll take care of it.” Fire alarms, cars broken down in parking lot, shoveling snow, lock the doors after meetings I didn’t attend, and opening the doors for people needing potty breaks. Yes, all of these happened. But wouldn’t have traded it for the world.
And … the point of today, I loved the neighbors of Jacobs Rd. One Ms. G who tried to block the radar of the police car aiming the radar gun at my car as I approached the church. Not sure it would’ve helped, but I wasn’t speeding anyway. I even brought our Chesterfield finest donuts once. Another was the elementary school … with voting poll place within walking distance, fairs that had baked goods, and a playground and an athletic field to romp around on.
And one of my fav peeps of the Jacobs Rd hood was Doug B. A long time member at Friendship, always smiling, loved to joke, and as devoted a husband as I have ever seen as he daily sat with his wife through years of her dementia and worse. On the day I moved in, having already pastored there for over 5 years, he came by and asked the “new neighbor” to come to church with him. He did warn me that the new pastor was a bit crazy. To that I agreed. But I told him I heard it was the church that drove him that way. To which he agreed.
About ten minutes before I wrote this, I got a notice Doug passed away. He went home to be with his wife, his family, and most importantly, his Lord. I got to see him last week as Lisa and I drove there just for that reason.
As always, a joy, a laugh, a smile, a hug (yes, so sue me for those I have avoided to do such action in the past), and even a tear. His strength, his love for family, his faith impact me to this day.
This week, several have passed away. Each have impacted people that were around them. Each have their own stories, memories to be shared, and friends and family that remain behind with a little bit of ourselves taken away.
But each leave us stronger as well.
I thank my Lord he allows sorrows. I know the deeper the pain, the deeper the love. I also thank my Lord that in each case this week, I will see them again. It is that hope, that faith, that allows me to continue.
I hope you know that hope. I hope you know the assurance that comes through Jesus. And if you desire to know more, seek out a crazy pastor in your area. I bet He will share that hope without hesitation.
Doug … see ya soon crazy neighbor.