He was new to the little town. After being considered, interviewed, called back and re-examined, he had been offered the job. It would be a new set of responsibilities. He’d never been in-charge before, always, runner-up, second in command. He was to move his family a few hundred miles from a neighboring state. The position accepted, the new house selected. He had been at the work for a couple weeks, before the arrival of his wife and children.
Into his second week, a new challenge arose. A hospital visitation. Well, after all, he was a Pastor, and one of the responsibilities was visiting parishioners in hospitals. This was a long standing member, from a long line of long standing members. Brain cancer was the diagnosis.
The new Pastor found his way to the hospital for his visit. This visit was his undermining. How do you visit a terminally ill person that you don’t know, and have never really met? The Pastor talked. He talked about this new job, leaving old friends, moving his family, how his wife didn’t want to move. He sat on the edge of the of church member’s hospital bed and cried. The church member had been a fighter pilot in the Korean conflict, he had seen his share of grief. The visitation time was spent consoling the new Pastor.
It wasn’t long before be the word got around church, only hours in fact. Those of us merely on the fringe of the “inner circles” didn’t hear the story until days later. Already there was discussion that he was a wrong choice. How can this guy be our pastor? Plans were afoot to solidify his termination. The “stop sticks” were being laid, they just needed to await his crossing them.
I still think about that time, twenty years ago. No, that hospital visit didn’t result in the pastor’s removal. Although a few years later something else befell him which not only terminated his position, but which also drove him out of the ministry.
I have wondered all these years later if everyone misread that visitation. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea to sit on the edge of the bed and cry. The pastor didn’t know this person. Maybe the confessions and crying was actually meant as a ploy for redirecting the church members thoughts and focus? Could it have all been pre-planned by the pastor? No defense was ever given nor was it ever asked for. There was just the wicked rumor weed that runs through church communities, controlled by people with small minds.