Earlier this year I was selected to sponsor a teenager, Alex, through the Confirmation process at our church. This was a 6 month process that involved church meetings, bible studies and service projects. It was one of the very best experiences of my church journey. I had never learned much about the history of my faith. I had the privilege of listening to our Pastor, Pastor Rick, patiently and carefully tell the story of who we are. And among a group of teenagers…let me tell you…this is no easy feat. Not only did I grow closer to Alex, but over the months I grew in my own faith and had a new found respect for the man who was a leader of our church.
I was so excited about the culmination of this six month process that I had to take photos. Admittedly, I often hesitate to pull out my camera during personal events. The stigma of being the photographer with the “hulkin” camera, the need to be perfect, to edit every photo, to find time to work on a photo during the busy wedding season; it seems daunting.
Now, just barely a month later, I find myself looking at every detail of these photos with a different perspective. I received a call last Wednesday that Pastor Rick had died suddenly. Now I look at these photos and I am so thankful that I took them. They will become a part of our church’s story, but more important part of a story a man that impacted so many lives. Knowing it was Pastor Rick’s last Confirmation and last Communion I find myself ignoring my own photography to focus on what really matters.
When Sean and I first started attending Mill Creek we were welcomed with open arms. Churches are supposed to be that way, but our church really embraces the open door mentality in a way that makes me so proud to be a member. Upon our first communion at Mill Creek, Pastor Rick addressed me by name “Brittany this is the body broken for you.” It was the first time a Pastor had addressed me by name during Communion. It resonated in such a different way…”This is the body broken for you?” For me?? For little old me? It is something that has never left me.
When this past Sunday’s service came, with heavy hearts and burning eyes, people stood up to tell stories of Pastor Rick. Stories of quiet kindness, gentle leadership, a giving heart and a loving father and husband. I know, the weeks ahead of us will certainly be packed with more stories of Pastor Rick. After all, in the week that he died, he led a work camp in Appalachia with our teens, presided over a wedding and a memorial service, hosted our church at his home and died planting Black-eyed Susan’s for his wife Susan. What a story! The stories we will hear will make us laugh, they will make us cry and they will make us grateful to know such a wonderful man.
The stories we tell through our lives, with photos, with words are the stories that shape us. Those are the stories our kids will tell their kids. They are the stories that will heal our hearts when they are sad and make us pause in the middle of a busy day. So today… please tell stories of those you love, tell people that their story matters and make your own worthy of being told.