I still like family practice. Actually I am not a doctor. (Not that kind of doctor anyhow) But I often compare what I do in ministry for a local church to that of a physician in family practice. I am there with families when their babies are born. And I am there when there are tragic circumstances surrounding the process of childbirth too. And I baptize those same children as the family gathers.
Life marches on. It is fun to celebrate with families, as their children reach important milestones. I have seen kids from church go off to college as National Merit Scholars. I have moved the children of my friends in the dorm. I have gone to watch ballgames and see people’s kids receive all kinds of awards. All of the above entail the perks of my ministry in a local church.
But I am also there when their children are involved in both serious and fatal car crashes. I have sat in a few intensive care waiting rooms with families while they awaited news on their child, who was suffering from some serious disease. It is during those times that people are counting on their minister to be an effective and compassionate family practitioner.
Over a period of 23 years I have officiated at over 150 funeral services. Some of those services have been for small children and teenagers. The funerals I have conducted honoring babies and children are forever imprinted on my heart. Such moments are unbelievably stressful. But taking care of families during those times is one of the most important services a family practitioner in ministry can offer.
And then there are weddings. Twenty three years ago I was doing weddings for couples that were not much older than me. That was fun. And then I started officiating for weddings of students that I had taught at the university or knew from our church youth group. That was enjoyable too. But in very recent years I have started doing weddings for my children’s peers and friends. And that is fun too…At least I keep telling myself it is fun.
When we conduct the rehearsal, I see members of the wedding party standing up there. In my mind, they are still in the 4th grade. They are supposed to come over to the house to watch movies. They are supposed to take pride in not taking showers for a week at church camp. They are supposed to walk across the street, so I can take them to school. I am beginning to think this is no fun at all. I am beginning to question this whole family practice thing…
This afternoon at 4:00 I will officiate at Katie’s wedding. Katie grew up across the street from us. She and Randall’s birthdays are only 11 days apart. She spent time at our house and Randall hung out at her house too. She tolerated my sermons when she was a teen. And she put up with me the year that I was interim youth minister too. Katie is fairly sensitive and Randall can be…well let me just say that he can be somewhat blunt at times. But she is a bride today. And I get to lead the couple in the exchange of vows.
I realize I am getting way to sensitive in my old age, but I am going to do my best to leave the waterworks to the mother of the bride today. I must admit that weddings are still fun. I fully realize that this wave of weddings for the friends of each of my boys will not last. I had better enjoy it. I am very grateful today for what I get to do. In fact, I still like family practice. More on the subject of family practice tomorrow…