I remember standing in front of the packed congregation as more than 250 people crowded into a small sanctuary. I had been serving the small congregations of Wadena and Bluegrass, Minn., for just more than three months as a very part-time speaker whilst in seminary, when one of the members died. I was informed that the gentleman requested that whoever was serving as the pastor at that time should do the funeral. As a church without a pastor, they turned to the seminary student who was serving them two or three weekends a month and asked me to lead the funeral service. I was terrified.
A funny thing happened as I read the passage from I Corinthians that day, however. All of a sudden, I understood the opportunity that God has afforded me to share the gospel of Jesus with so many people! At a funeral, everyone is listening for the slightest hope of comfort. At a funeral, everyone wants to hear some good news. At a funeral, the pastor is given the chance to allow the light of Christ to be reflected to everyone gathered, through the Word of God.
My understanding of the ministry of the Word has never been the same after I was given the opportunity to preach that day. Over the course of a year and a half, I preached more than 100 times between the two churches. I was tasked with visitation, baptism, confirmation, communion, and, of course, that funeral. Each time I was allowed to ascend to the pulpit, I was reminded again what a great opportunity I had been given. I was reminded again what it meant to share the light of Jesus with the congregations. He has conquered the powers of sin, death, and the devil. He has given to us grace and peace. He has grafted us into the family of God so that we would no longer be strangers and aliens but the very children of God.
As I prepare to go on internship in Valley City, N.D., I hope to be reminded again and again of the opportunity that I am given every day to share the light of Jesus in and through the ministry that God has granted to me.
Joe Frech [FLS third-year] is serving a one-year internship at Valley City, N.D.
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