It was a typical Sunday morning when we walked into church. Greeting folks along the way, we made our way up the center aisle to an open spot in a pew – left side, where we usually sit.
From the pulpit, our pastor bid us good morning and began announcements. Still settling in a bit with our Little One (granddaughter), my attention peaked when Pastor welcomed a visitor, someone well known to our congregation, and his wife.
Immediately, I turned around in my seat and eagerly scanned those sitting behind me to find this person. Not just a visitor, but a former pastor of this country church. This place so steeped in my heritage, not only where I grew up worshiping God, but where both my parents grew up, and where both sets of my grandparents also called their church home.
And then I spied him. Oh, he looked a bit different…older as he’s getting up in years. But then, I certainly look different…and older…too.
He had become a widower a couple of years back, so the lovely white-haired lady at his side was his second wife, someone I’d never seen before. I couldn’t wait for fellowship time to greet this man and welcome him back to our church even though it was just for Sunday morning worship.
See, this pastor, this man of God, has always been someone special to me. He came to our church in my late teenage/early adulthood years. To me, he was the no-nonsense, straight from the Bible kind of preacher from whom I learn most.
And in the month of October some 40 years ago, this pastor performed the marriage ceremony for Papa and me as you can see in my photo above.
Prior to our wedding day, the two of us sat in Pastor’s office as he questioned us about our beliefs, goals, and roles in marriage. And he gave us godly advice on how to begin our lives together and keep our marriage intact.
As soon as we said “I do,” Papa whisked me off to another area of the country where he served in the military. We didn’t get back home as often as we liked, but when we did, we managed to attend church services and listen to Pastor’s messages.
He always welcomed us back with smiles and hearty greetings. One summer when we visited my parents, I remember Pastor and his gracious wife invited us and my parents to their home for dinner.
While there, our oldest child, who was just about the age our oldest granddaughter is now, sang a Vacation Bible School song she had just learned. Pastor and his wife enthusiastically cheered her on and clapped when she was finished and she loved the attention they gave her.
A few years later, this pastor was called to minister in another area of the country, but we still managed to keep in touch. My parents and their friends traveled to visit Pastor and wife in their new home and I recall seeing my Dad’s photos from that trip and hearing my Mom share about their lovely visit.
We even experienced a wonderful surprise ourselves from Pastor and his wife after that when they stopped to visit us and our three children in our Midwest home.
Through all of these many years between our wedding in 1977 and now, I have faithfully sent Christmas cards with a letter to Pastor and his wife and always received one in return. Even after his spouse passed away, I continued to send cards figuring he would enjoy receiving them.
Apparently, he did. Because this past Sunday when I shook his hand and reminded him who I was, he smiled and said “Ah, yes.”
I told him that Papa and I had just celebrated our wedding anniversary and that he had performed the ceremony 40 years ago this month right there in that church to which he replied, “I remember.”
And then he added, “Keep those Christmas cards coming.”
Sometimes the simplest things touch us the most. And they are blessings.
Just like the blessing of seeing my former pastor again in that place, which is once again my church home, in this particular month – Papa’s and my 40th wedding anniversary month.
“Remember all the people in your life who helped guide you on your road to success. Thank them sincerely and often.” ~ Robert Cheeke