There’s a joke in my clergy circle that people think all we do is sit around and pray all day. Of course, we don’t. We’re busy. We do things. We plan, write sermons, go to committee meetings, do, uh, things – we’re busy people. Oh. And we do pray…. occasionally.
Yesterday, I was doing what I usually do – being busy – when a gentleman walked into the church. He sat in the pews for a bit and then walked back to the office. I was in the middle of printing out the three Sunday school lessons I just finished – the pages jumped completely out of the printer and were all over the floor – when he came into the office. I looked up, he asked for someone to talk to, I said he could talk to me, I left the paper on the floor, we stepped out, and we chatted. And chatted. And chatted. Over two hours later, we parted ways. I never learned his last name – but I listed to his story. He cried several times. I tried to help. And I did what I’ve already learned to do – don’t worry about whether the story is true – just go with it and see what happens. That’s the cost of being an urban church that keeps its doors open – all sorts of people can walk in. And I listen to them, pray with them, and hope that God helping me say the right words. Because, well, that’s part of my job now.
Later in the afternoon, during confirmation class, we started the Lord’s Prayer. And as we talked about prayer in general, I brought up the story of how a random person I didn’t know, came into church, and asked me to talk with him. He told me his heart wrenching story – and we prayed. That wasn’t even the punch line – but I was interrupted by my students.
“Wait – what?” asked one of the students.
“Really?” asked another.
“So…wait…do you have another job?”
I didn’t know how to take that question. Did they not know I work as an intern full time? “Nope – all of this is my job now.”
“And that’s what all the pastors here do?”
“Yep. Pretty much.”
“Wow” said another.
“That’s so cool.”
You see, I know that those of us in the church world don’t spend all our days praying, but there’s at least a dozen twelve year olds and thirteen year olds in New York City who don’t seem to think that having that part of your job description is such a bad thing.