Pastor Miller

I remember Pastor Miller preaching at Barclay Heights Community Church. We met in the lodge of an old YMCA camp on Esopus Creek near Glenerie Falls. When the lodge became our permanent home, we changed the name of the church to Glenerie Chapel.

I remember Pastor Miller praying; his opening prayers were nearly the equal of his sermons. These were not pithy, punchy, sound-bited perfunctories; his prayers were ten minutes of engagement with God on matters of the day, from local to global.

I remember Pastor Miller’s velvet singing voice. It reminded me of a baritone Andy Williams with a bit of Mel Torme. From where I sat, singing seemed to be pure pleasure for him.

I remember Pastor Miller telling us about Christ’s Passion during a springtime Sunday night service thirty-some years ago. One of the other teens ran out of the lodge, weeping – overtaken by the description of what Jesus had endured for him. I ran after him and listened to his story.

I remember Pastor Miller’s Christianity including humanness. He didn’t try to portray himself as saintly; he wasn’t aloof from his congregation. He wasn’t afraid to laugh.

I don’t remember when Pastor Miller invited me to call him “Bob”. The truth is I never really got used to it. He was simply “Pastor” to me.

I remember Pastor Miller saying he thought I’d become a pastor someday. I didn’t like that, and I fought it for a long time. But over the years, his was among a small number of voices through which God conferred that calling to me. I don’t wear it as comfortably as he did but I try to be true to my legacy.

Today, I’m remembering to remember because it’s the day of Pastor’s memorial service. I wish I could be present. He and his family are very much on my mind. I’m praying they feel the support of their communities as they find their way forward. I’m praying they know they’re not carrying his memory alone. And I’m praying they find grace today to celebrate him with all their might.


Craig Bob said...

Thanks for that post. As in many other instances, you captured the insights, compassion, and poignancy that often elude me. My early-days memories of Glenerie Chapel are more rooted in the train trestle and the Creek. But I do have fond memories of meeting with Pastor Miller for premarital counseling. Even with the you-must-be-kidding timing that Lora and I chose, Bob was very affirming and wise in his advice to us. I can't imagine anyone else presiding over our wedding ceremony.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Craig. You have found words to express (well) some memories about Pastor Bob. Thank you for posting this. Mom

Anonymous said...

Scott - thanks so much for this eloquent tribute to my dad. What I clearly see through your words is the affirmation that my dad indeed touched many people in a way that had a profound influence.

He was 83 and ready to go. He leaves behind a family, but he also leaves behind many cherished friends, like yourself, who are really part of his family.

Thanks for remembering with us and helping us celebrate his life.

Scott said...

Dan, Mom, Craig -- thank you for commenting. The community aspect of grief, remembrance, celebration... is so vital.

Remembering honors the one who has passed and keeps us open to gifts given by that person, even in absence. And in remembering, we that remain remind one another of how intertwined our lives really are, despite distances of time and geography.

Anonymous said...

Scott - the geography comment is so key. Through email and blogs, I feel very connected to those who remember my dad.

Keep the faith.

Anonymous said...

We were never friends in high school. But your words have given me a new hope and a signpost on my own overgrown path back toward faith. I've read all your stories and they have made me chuckle, and weep, and pause, and pray. Life truly is a journey - and I can write my own story as I go. This blog has been "a miracle of page and pen" for me, and I suspect for many others who read it "religiously". Thank you. And by the way, to my mind, you wear your pastorship with humility, dignity, and grace. Keep the faith. Keep marking the trail.

Scott said...

Thank you for commenting, Anonymous – your response has left me sort-of wordless. I’m pretty sure this is the first time anyone has celebrated my musings with a Trisha Yearwood lyric! You've encouraged me to keep on blogging, and that’s a good gift. Muito Obrigado com Voce.