Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Enriched by the Past

The past two weekends we've had visitors who became friends during pastorates from the past. Clergy have to be careful about forming friendships while serving congregations out of concerns of favouritism, so often the relationships deepen after departure when there are no longer some of those professional issues.

The first couple we know from our Sudbury days, a community we moved to more than 25 years ago. They were neighbours as well as congregants and our children went to school together and were friends. He was a lawyer then, and our son Isaac worked as a runner for his firm as a teen. Now he is a judge and Ruth could talk courtroom "shop" with him. Both are intelligent and thoughtful, and we discussed a range of world issues. It was good to have them attend worship.

This past weekend we welcomed a couple who were members of one of the five preaching points during my settlement pastorate in Newfoundland. The harbour at Fredericton is pictured above. These friends came to visit with one of their daughters, who was a "tween" back then, and now a United Church minister pushing fifty. Her husband and son are friends as well, and I performed their wedding nearly 20 years ago.

This family showed us tremendous warmth and hospitality when we arrived 36 years ago. While he was a fisherman with limited education he was very inquisitive about the wider world, and always had what seemed like a million questions. At that time, which was 1980, he predicted that overfishing would lead to the collapse of the cod fishery and others as well. He was disturbingly accurate.

While the backgrounds of these sets of visitors was very different, it was wonderful to have them with us as a reminder of the legacy of ministry. While I hope we offered something to them, they certainly enriched our lives.


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