“How Beautiful are the Feet”
October 3, 2020
In Romans chapter 10, the apostle Paul speaks of preaching the gospel:
Then how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” …So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the word of Christ.
“How beautiful are the feet.”
I have seen the feet of only a few of our pastors, deacons, and persons engaged in synodically authorized ministry, those who have worn sandals to a conference or to some other event. But I will echo Paul in asserting that the feet of all of them are beautiful. Paul is not talking about pedicures. The feet are beautiful because they were the means by which a person would get to where she or he will bring the good news, will bring the gospel.
It does not diminish in any way the importance of other work in the church and in the world to lift up that it is a profound calling to preach the gospel. “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17).
Serving in ministry is a challenge in and of itself, at any time, in every setting. But the COVID-19 pandemic that has put added tension, stress, and struggle on all us, has taken its toll on our ministers as well.
It is likely, though, that you don’t notice the added tension, stress, and struggle on those ministering to you, because pastors, deacons, and contracted synodically authorized ministers work hard to remain non-anxious around you, to keep your spirits up, to remain calm in an atmosphere of heightened divisiveness, and to stay fully available to you, even when they are not able to visit you personally in your home or in the hospital. Also, no one would expect the average member of a congregation to be aware of the time and effort involved in providing good quality online worship. (And I would add that no one is more stressed than the minister when there are technical glitches.)
I am not trying to paint a “woe is me” picture of being a minister. Our ministers have responded to the need to innovate and adapt pastoral ministry with extraordinary investments of time, energy, and caring. Ministers also experience joy, support, hope, and a sense of purpose in their call from God to serve in the church. What I am leading up to is a modest nudge. October is “Clergy Appreciation Month” (and October 11 is “Clergy Appreciation Sunday”).
Might you not use this “Clergy Appreciation Month” as an opportunity to recognize the grace brought to you by “those who labor in preaching and teaching.” And please be generous with your minister, if her or his beautiful feet show some fatigue.
Ministers, please know my deep gratitude to God for you and your service. I keep you in my prayers.
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”