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  • Writer's pictureSam Goodchild

What Do You Do for God?

Updated: Feb 5

This week I took a funeral service for a man who had lived such an interesting life. One of his passions in later years was writing and reading his poetry at local pub events.

He was also an artist and everyone was told to wear colour for the funeral. As we were waiting for everyone to arrive, all these arty types were wandering up the path to the crematorium in their flowing colourful outfits.

I was standing at the entrance, seeing everyone in as usual when this man came running up at the last minute - clearly straight from the building site. He was in grubby shorts and dusty boots, sloughing off a high viz jacket under which was an old sweatshirt. He had a rucksack and several bags with him and was packing things in and pulling things out. He was clearly flustered and worried about arriving with little time to spare.

‘Where can I leave my stuff?’ he asked me in a Scouse accent

I pointed to a place at the back of the chapel and ushered him in as we were due to start.

The widow had asked me to call a poet up during the service – a friend of her departed husband who had written a poem about him. The ceremony began and we got to that moment. I called the name I had. Clearly still a bit flustered and looking somewhat unprepared, it was the Scouse builder who came up to the lectern.

He proceeded to search through his pockets and then patting himself down said ‘I haven’t got it’. Two of his friends at the back waved. They had spotted and picked up some papers that had fallen on the floor. That was what he was looking for. Retrieving the papers, he returned to the lectern and started to shuffle through them back and forth. Then another delay as he realised he didn’t have his reading glasses – I loaned him mine.

And then….

He started to share his poem. A light came on inside him, his words filled the room and were moving, funny and poignant. The whole congregation was captivated. I was spellbound.

His words flowed with grace, emanating from this unexpected poet and weaving their way around the chapel, touching the heart of every person present. The light he was emitting was reflected in each of the mourners’ eyes. Something quite magical was occurring.

When the poet had finished there was a round of applause. Trying to recover my composure so I could continue the service, I realised I had just witnessed someone in pure, Divine flow. I felt powerfully blessed – in a literal sense.

Afterwards, I went to speak to the poet and told him he had a true gift.

It was a synchronous event as this week I’ve been working with my Ministry students, asking them to contemplate what their ‘ministry’ is. This is put to them, having first defined Ministry as:

"...about giving of ourselves and our time, talents and resources to bless and help others.[1]

Everyone called to the path of Sacred Minister has their own brand of ministry. The beauty is that you create it according to your strengths and talents. Some are unknowingly ministering using their gifts. For the Scouse builder he uses inspiring poetry.

"The cry of the minister is "someone's got to do it, might as well be me." When we serve in ministry, we will find our greatest joy and most fulfilment in life" 1

"Ministry is simply what we do for God" 1

What is your Ministry? Or what could it be?

What do you or could you do for God?

[1] Robert Hampshire (Pastor, Virginia)

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