A Ministry of Presence
The weather in North Texas can be volatile at times. It can shift from a bright sunny day to a dark, cloud-filled sky with thunder, lightning and high wind gusts. It seems the weather can change on a dime.
In some ways, the weather here mirrors our very lives. Everything might be going along smoothly, then a curveball comes our way out of nowhere, and our lives are never quite the same.
A loved one receives news of an inoperable medical condition. A parent struggles with failing health, and we are called upon to provide increasing support. Our chosen career path does not come to pass as we had planned, and we are forced in a new direction. Our child struggles in school and we are challenged to support her as she receives a diagnosis requiring special education options. A longed-for relationship remains elusive and we live in the shadow of disappointment and doubt.
Life is full of twists and turns, but the church endeavors to be present and supportive through it all.
An especially tender season are the times when a loved one passes away. Memorial or funeral services are planned. Inurnment services are coordinated in the columbarium where our loved one is committed to their final resting place.
At such times, specially-trained deacons are present for families as they make this part of their journey. Deacons follow clear guidelines in tending to the needs of individuals and families as they grieve and as they are present at the church for these services.
Preston Hollow member Jim Aiken is one such deacon who was invited many years ago to serve in support of families amidst their sorrow on the day of their loved one’s memorial service. Jim’s natural inclination to be present for and care for others at such times of need made him a perfect person to serve in this special way.
“I am a perfectionist,“ says Jim, “so serving in a role requiring tending to the details and supporting those in our community was a perfect fit for me.“
Jim especially relishes a “look of relief in their eyes” when he tells families, “I’m going to be here ‘tll the last person leaves.” He is gratified knowing that merely being present and guiding folks in the right direction can help them relax and not be burdened by the details of the day.
Jim is among several others who bring a caring spirit and a glimpse of God’s light amidst the clouds of loss in a person’s life. Jim considers his role holy work. He describes it as one of the most satisfying and fulfilling roles he has ever had.
Our clergy count on these faithful deacons to support families at such time. Deacons such as Jim are viewed as vital to our caregiving team, for they are on the front lines of “living like we belong to one another.”