At the church I pastor, older folks in the congregation mostly just call me “Pastor,” because older folks still call their pastors “Pastor” or maybe my name isn’t all that important compared to my holy vocation or maybe they’ve seen so many pastors come and go that remembering names is a bit touch and go.
I, for my part, call them “senior saints.” It is a reminder to me that I am not the first one to walk down this narrow path (Matt. 7:13–14).
My calling as Christ’s shepherd is to proclaim his death and resurrection for the healing of the world. Although this gospel message seems familiar enough when I say it from the pulpit, it takes on new power when I visit parishioners whose bodies are failing.
Some years ago, I went to see a congregant named Tom in the hospital. I remember how his face lit up when I brought him communion—the same communion in the same type of beat-up, old, portable communion kit that he himself had brought ...1