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.