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Here’s to the Pastors

Here’s to the pastors.

The ones you’ve never heard of.

The custodians of 30 million secrets for 30 million heavy souls.

Those worn down by time and place.

Walking, no, limping beside those they are pushing toward glory.

Here’s to the pastors who with futures uncertain, mark their days by tasks largely unseen.

To the ones who serve churches with stories rarely told.

No invitations to speak.

Or write.

And without worry.

For while they are happy some comrades are lifted toward public gaze, their eye is on the long play.

Here’s to the pastors, targets of endless critiques by small souls.

From people they are called to love.

From people they call their friends.

From those called to pray for them.

From one hundred thousand Judases who’ve walked under the fountains of healing, grace and time.

Taking the darkness in stride, they know if seats were switched, the tempter’s hand would surely touch them too.

Here’s to the pastors who with muffled doubts and gnawing sin still find the courage to stand up among us.

To ascend the steps.

And to remind us of hope.

To believe for us, long past when we stopped believing in ourselves.

Who, while being neither trite nor resigned, find the strength every week to tell us the ancient story.

Of another time and place.

When demons fled souls left ajar by the touch of a hand.

When tombs held no power.

Here’s to the pastors, the ones who are there.

In hospitals, when new life comes running toward us.

Who stand with us in the waters of holy delight, changed.

At graduations.

And celebrations.

Cup in hand and story to be told, about when we were young.

And at gravesides, holy book in hand, howling with holy laughter as the secret is finally revealed. “The old are not gone,” they tell us. “They’ve just learned how to dance.”

To the pastors who are there.

With us.

Beside us.

In the background.