Friendships Among Pastors

March 3, 2020 by Rev. Ivan Herman

Psalm 63:1-4 (NRSV)

1 O God, you are my God, I seek you,
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

For the last 10 years, I’ve led the children at the church preschool in a monthly “Pastor Time.” Every March I read “The Corner” from Frog and Toad All Year by Arnold Lobel and tell them how much God loves them. The children form a small circle around me, sitting “criss-cross-applesauce with spoons in the bowl.” Munchkin-sized umbrellas with mouse ears lean in the corner of the room. On their feet brightly colored galoshes are festooned with whatever animated character is popular this season. After a rousing round of “This Little Light of Mine” (Hide it under a bushel—NOOOOOOO!!!), they lean forward, waiting for the story:

Frog and Toad were caught in the rain. They ran to Frog’s house. “I’m all wet,” said Toad. “The day is spoiled.”

“Have some tea and cake,” said Frog. “The rain will stop. If you stand near the stove, your clothes will soon be dry. I will tell you a story while we are waiting,” said Frog. “Oh good,” said Toad.

Frog is a simple model for pastoral ministry. Rather than leave Toad in the doldrums, Frog feeds his friend tea and cake, reassures him the rain will stop, and then spins a story about how spring is just around the corner. His ministry takes Toad’s mind off his troubles without denying them, and his story instills a hope of springtime that keeps him going until the rain ends.

Lent has just begun and the six-week journey toward the cross may seem cold and long, but spring resurrection is just around the corner. The hope of it fills us even now. May your ministry be filled with opportunities to tell a story of God’s love revealed in Jesus Christ.

All God’s children are thirsty to hear of steadfast love that is better than life.

 

Ivan is the associate pastor at Carmichael Presbyterian Church and current moderator of the Presbytery of Sacramento. He grew up in Ecuador and Colombia, and was over-educated in schools on the East Coast. He previously served as pastor or ruling elder in Presbyterian congregations in Memphis, TN, Washington, DC, and San Antonio, TX. A cyclist, a homebrewer, and a bow-tie-wearer, Ivan lives in Sacramento with his spouse, Susan, and their two children who love to swim more than they love Jesus—almost.