Friday, May 11, 2007

Beginning With an End

This field education experience is off to an unusual start. Just before field ed orientation, I learned that a friend and spiritual mentor of mine had gone on to be with God. The Rev. Dr. Jerry Lowry was one of the most spiritually intuitive people I've ever met--he seemed to be able to see God in a godless situation, to be spiritually attuned to what kind of work God was doing in a particular context. As chance (or providence) would have it, I've been placed in a church where Jerry served as a pastor many years ago. Many members there knew and loved him, and some there were led to discover whatever God was calling them to do with their lives through Jerry's influence. The pastor at Sandy Plains UMC (which is where I'll be this summer) was close to Jerry- we share him as a spiritual mentor.

As I have been talking with this Pastor at Sandy Plains about hopes and plans for the summer, memories of Jerry keep coming up. Memories of his unique (and effective!) style of preaching, memories of his on-the-go nature, and how it seemed that caring for his "flock" just couldn't wait. At Jerry's funeral, one man shared how he knew that Jerry influenced many, many folks to consider ordained ministry.

With the help of my father, who was also at the service, I remembered afterwards one of the first times I met Jerry. I had been away at school, and had returned to go to church with my parents, where Jerry was pastoring at the time. Afterwards, on the breezeway outside of the sanctuary, he came up to me and exclaimed, "I've been looking for you!" Naturally, I was a little surprised, because I hadn't met this man before. He must not have noticed the expression on my face, or if he did, he didn't let on. He continued right along, and told me that he saw the Holy Spirit upon me during the service. I wanted to ask what it looked like, but thought better of it. He said that he could tell that I would be "going into the ministry." I had considered it before, but Jerry's statements caught me off guard. I didn't know this guy, and I didn't think that he knew me either. As it turns out, he--through some sort of God given insight--knew me better than I did at the time. Through much discernment and prayer, I finally did discern a call to ordained ministry. Jerry was right.

And now, here I am- I'll be preaching in the same pulpit he once graced, meeting some who were his mentors, and maybe--if I'm lucky--learn some of the same lessons he learned among the people of Sandy Plains United Methodist Church. Yes, indeed, this will be an interesting summer, begun with memories of a great mentor. Dear Jerry, may your blessings be upon it.

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