“Carry each other’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2 CEB
Pastor S called late Tuesday afternoon. “My son’s been in a bad motorcycle accident. Can you cover for me this Sunday?”
Yes. Of course. I’m available. And that’s what I do: lead worship and preach when one of my colleagues will be away. We call it pulpit supply in the United Church of Christ.
“Oh,” one of my husband’s relatives said once she understood what I do, “you’re a substitute pastor!” I’ve been called worse.
Pastor J called Wednesday morning. “Is there any chance you could do some pulpit supply?” She was asking for a congregation down the road. They and their (now former) pastor have had a parting of ways.
Yes. Of course. Just not this Sunday or the 21st because I’m already committed. But that’s also what I do: step in as a stable presence to lead worship and preach, to love the people through an unexpected difficult time, to remind them they are not forgotten by God.
When colleagues are headed for a conference or taking a vacation, they ask early. When there’s a family emergency, they call as soon as they realize they may need to be gone on Sunday. When a church and a pastor have parted ways, Pastor J or someone in her position will call.
So today I’m looking at a bulletin that was handed to me, writing prayers, thinking of a children’s message, and trying to figure out where Pastor S might have been going with the sermon. I’ve pretty much decided to ignore her sermon title. But we won’t know the details until Sunday morning.
If you’re looking for a substitute pastor, I may or may not be available the 14th and 28th. But I should know by Monday.