Most of the time, ministry is great, and there is a lot to be said for joining in with laughter, happiness and joy, both with families and with the congregational family. Giving folk a wee hand to cope with obstacles is also extremely fulfilling, and helping congregations to achieve goals is the best, but life is not always all about good bits.
One of the most deeply loved members of St Aug's, George Matheson, died on Saturday, and this morning we need to start planning his funeral which will be on Thursday. It will be a full house, I'm sure, and one of these times when I'll need to keep my emotions in check and go into "professional" mode for an hour or so. Sometimes that's not so easy with someone you loved so much.
George was a pillar, and had a faith as deep and true as anyone I've ever known in 30 odd years of ministry. An Aberlour boy with an incredible singing voice, he grew from being a scrawny choirboy into a respected Choir and Vestry Member for many years, but was probably quite forbidding in his prime. By the time I got to know him, he was simply a big pussy-cat, full of wisdom, knowledge and love. Our Lord shone from his, rather dim, eyes! He was probably the person who saved St Aug's when the Diocese threatened closure about 15 years ago, taking on the Convener of the Administration Board in an infamous showdown which has its place in St Aug's folklore! Just one of those folk that it was a joy to minister to, receiving from him more than I ever gave.
Yes, there will be tears in my heart if not on my face on Thursday.
Once and only once did I ever break down in tears at the reception of the body into church of someone I loved deeply, and was scolded by the family because I should be strong and know better! However, we clergy are human, and we feel grief and pain as much as anyone. Sometimes it's easier to mask than others.