One of the great privileges of being an integral part of congregational life is the fact that clergy and clergy families are close to many people we wouldn't know well otherwise. We often have unique access to families during formative times. For example, it's not unusual to find clergy and spouse at wedding rehearsal dinners, at family celebrations of birth and baptism, or even to be invited to dinner just because the family wants to host the pastor and his/her family. Over the years, our family has been blessed by many of these relationships that sometimes last well beyond our going to another church.
And it is a privilege to be there when people really need a helping hand--to be called upon to give, not out of duty but out of friendship. In my Sunday School class there is a couple who is going through a very rough time. Their young daughter is seriously ill. Yesterday, the mother ran into our class late, because her daughter wanted to come to church. The daughter has been disfigured because of recent surgery. While she knows she will be made fun of when she goes back to school, she wanted to come to church to be with her youth group friends, whom she knew would embrace her with love and support. The mother came into our class to let us know "the latest" and for prayer. As we stood around her, several said that we expect to be called upon to transport the other kids, mow the lawn, cook some meals. It was more than, "Please call us if you need anything." It was more like, "I'll be over next week with food, and I'll be there to do some lawn care. Don't worry."
Fortunately, I was late for choir, which meant that I had to leave quickly, because I was beginning to tear-up--as was everyone else.
As clergy families, we sometimes glimpse of the Kingdom of God, when people truly behave like the Body of Christ. But grief and sorrow are things we live with daily. There are just so many hurting people. With so much tragedy, we must be sure to laugh and celebrate whenever possible. God loves a cheerful giver.