The Pastor’s Piece – November 19, 2023

The Pastor’s Piece

Village Voices

November 19, 2023


“The Spice of Life”

This Thanksgiving, along with so much, I am thankful for the extra characters God has brought into my life and blessed me with.

Everyone has a story to tell. 

I could tell you her name, but that might give it away. Several years ago her daughter and son-in-law came to me for marriage counseling. I gave them the best advice I could at the time and sent them on their way along with a homework assignment. The daughter went home and told her mom what my advice was (which by now I can’t even recall – but I’m sure it was good advice) and the mom went ballistic. She called me up and chewed me out – up one side and down the other. She let me have it. Needless to say, I thought I’d never see the young couple, or her again. In fact, I never met her in person at all … That is until … one day several years later I received a phone call from the funeral home. They were calling on behalf of a family asking if I’d officiate a funeral for them. I took down the details, and agreed to do it. I did not recognize the name of the deceased but I did recognize the family name. 

The next day we met at the funeral home to plan the funeral and go over the details. The family was kind and appreciative. I knew I knew them but just couldn’t place them in my own history. Then it hit me, this was the lady who had given me a piece of her mind many years prior. We had no further contact after that, and apparently she did not tell her husband or anyone else in the family about our encounter. It was our secret, and as they say, dead people don’t talk. I gave the eulogy and recalled the heart-warming and funny events in her life that the family shared with me and we gave her an honorable and pleasing burial. I have not revealed to anyone who this individual was who so vehemently took issue with me so many years ago. It doesn’t matter. I only hope that before eternity called, she had found salvation in the arms of our loving Lord. 

Another incident came up a few days ago – actually it was two incidents – this time much more favorable. A new pastor had moved to this area and we wanted to get acquainted so we scheduled a meet and greet. As we talked, he shared about the church he was coming from and mentioned that one of his elders and best friends was my cousin. I was somewhat surprised to hear this. My cousin and I were the same age – just one week apart in birthdays and best friends as children. After we moved away when I was about 12 years old, we of course, stayed in contact, but distance has a way of separating people and we were no exception. We saw each other occasionally at family reunions and weddings and funerals, but that was about it. But then, all these years later, I’m hearing about my cousin from a total stranger who met him in Chicago and they became friends and now we are randomly meeting in rural Wisconsin. Interesting. 

Then, to add a little more spice to my life, my wife and I were at a banquet a few nights ago, where a bunch of us got together to celebrate the lives of babies who were saved from abortion. A lady approached us and introduced herself and her husband. In her introduction, she said she knew my uncle. I asked how, and she said she grew up in the house next door to my aunt and uncle and cousins. This was in Indiana. I went to Sunday school as a child with this lady’s mom. But I moved out of Indiana when I was 12 years old and had not even thought about this family for decades. Her grandpa used to help us bale hay on the farm back then. I will always remember him because my job was to ride on the twine box on the baler and make sure each knot tied as the twine went through the knotter. If it didn’t tie, I had to tie the two loose ends in a square knot as the bale moved through the chamber. Timing was critical. This girl’s grandpa was stacking the wagon one day when I was doing this and he was concerned about all the dust and asked my dad if he had a pair of goggles I could wear. (Of course, dad didn’t). That’s what I remember about him and the fact that he was tall and slender and attended our same church and his two daughters were about my age. But now, our roads have somehow crossed in life once again, in the most unexpected way. And her husband is also a pastor, and now a friend. 

I don’t believe in coincidences in life. I find these little situations amazing as God brings us together and I’m thankful for these little spices of life God has blessed me with.

(Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin).