But first there was the 09:00 appointment at the crem to be dealt with!
Haven't done that early a slot since the heatwave in 2004/5 and the journey was such that what usually takes ten minutes took an additional twenty five on top of that. The privilege of being 'called and collared' came to mind as I reflected on the journey regarding the lives of those who do that journey (and beyond) every day. The daily grind of commute and workplace versus the privileged position of breakfast, lunch and dinner at home, the setting of your own diary and working day and more besides. There are many demands on us, but we offer ourselves to the role and have no cause to do anything but celebrate our 'shoulder to shoulder' life as ministers of the Gospel.
The service was intimate and reflective. A joy and privilege to have been part of. The sting of death and the victory of, and over, the grave and a man with a cross and the realised hope He brings, all of them made an appearance. Funerals are surely, after leading people to Christ, one of the stone bomber best bits of this life I have chosen to follow - even when they start at 09:00!
Then it was a move from the point of delivery to the order process as I visited someone to arrange a service. Not a customer, not merely a 'friend', but a family member - someone I know, respect and love; 'one of ours' in every sense. Stories were told, grief was polished and love shone through the gritty grime that is bereavement. The hope in Christ was made real and the comfort of a God who cares enough to take in all we have and overcome it for us! Hallelujah.
More of the same and then it was time for a journey to Bethlehem - the first of the week - and you can forget the inn; there was no room in the church building! The children were exactly what you desire as memories were made, children waved and grandmothers (and fathers) dabbed at unseen specks in eyes that cause them to water! The privilege of being caretaker, usher, information point and Jesus once again made an appearance - and I loved it. Can't wait until tomorrow's performance.
Would that the Church lived Nativity and Easter Sunday every day!
The annual gathering of the services in our patch was possibly the smoothest yet - only had to chase a few for the information and can't wait until Thursday to see the result in our most excellent and supportive local paper.
Lots of little pastoral encounters today - the sprinkles on the whole day - perhaps we should rename ourselves as 'Need a neighbour dot com'? Dragons, demons and doubts all fought and vanquished it was a day of joy and challenges met.
But what of today - where did my feet take me and where along the road did I meet with Jesus?
The challenge of seeing where He was and asking whether I was in step with Him or beckoning Him to deviate from His course to dance to my folly and confusion? Lord, help me to go where You lead, to pray as you would have me pray and to work where, when and how You would have me work. Help me never to have campaigns and projects but to have the cross and the people as my spur and passion.
And in the morning ....
Bring it on and let us, together, minister the love that reconciles a broken and sad world to God - You with Your cross and me hoping that I look and smell like you to the world around me.
Jesus, I love You.