Earlier this month, our family had the unique opportunity to spend time in New Orleans. We did a bit of helping, a lot of eating, and spent time with old friends.
The photo to the right is the sanctuary of Canal Street Presbyterian Church in New Orleans. This photo was taken this past Easter Sunday, which was only the second time that the sanctuary has been used (the first was Palm Sunday) in the seven months since Katrina. When Pastor Mike emailed me this photo, earlier this week, upon my return from Alaska, I could not help but smile, and give a brief prayer of thanks for this small act of restoration, and for the determination and persistence of this congregation.
I also had to take a minute to also smile and give thanks for my friend Pastor Mike. Mike is an amazing manifestation of pastoral care. Mike came to know Christ through the ministry of of a rather weird, old Cadillac driving fellow in Philadelphia, who loved kids for Jesus, and would not give up on relationships. Through him, Mike's life was changed forever. And now, in turn, many lives in New Orleans are given hope, humor and great love.
The pastor's I know lead sometimes quite cerebral lives. They think thoughts, they lead committees, they prepare sermons, and some write books. Several of them have rather pithy Blogs. They may even spend time with people. They have orderly offices in quiet settings. Classical music often plays in the background. Life is sedate and ordered. Many different bible translations dot the shelves of calm temperature controlled offices. People speak in hushed tones, the receptionists are very polite.
Pastor Mike does not have his office back yet. It is packed in boxes still. There is no receptionist. His office is his truck, where his battered bible is always on the dashboard. His ministry these days is a very unquiet and uncommon blur of constant movement, relentless caring, and a passion for bringing the care of Christ to a congregation still in transition. During our stay in one week, Mike was helping me empty water out of a still-flooded clothes washer as we gutted a home, visiting a sick church member in the hospital, meeting with other pastors, preparing a sermon, helping church members move, leading a small group with other men in the church, driving his kids (there are five of them - from ages 9 to 16)to and from school, and leading a Wednesday Lenten service. This is a man always moving from one place in town to another. His cell phone battery is typically dead by 2:00 PM everyday; talking to people all over town and all over the country about ways that they can help in New Orleans. In all he says and does, a joke and a laugh are not far away. Mike is one of the funniest guys I have ever met.
A bible on the dashboard, and a heart for the Kingdom. Never still. Always moving. I love my friend, Pastor Mike. I am thankful.
Would you pray for my friend, Pastor Mike?