Back in the day, one of the associate pastors in the church I grew up wrote a newsletter article called “What is a Pastor?” Something in the article spoke to my mo and she kept a copy of it around. It came in handy when they wanted a gift for me when I was ordained as a pastor and so the article now hangs on my wall as a regular reminder of what I am called to be and do as a pastor. One way of summing a lot of it up is “standing in the gap.” I believe that as a pastor, one of my key roles is to stand in the gap to help connect the Word of God to daily life, to help bring faith and hope to places where those may be a struggle, to be a voice for the voiceless, to seek to help bring forth justice and righteousness in the world.
I read today’s passage from 1 King’s 8 and 9 while on a hike this morning on my sabbath day and verses 22-52 or chapter 8 really caught my attention and my heart. In those verses, King Solomon is dedicating the temple and specifically here he prays on behalf of the people about forgiveness, holiness, hospitality for the stranger, faithfulness to God, even about when rain is needed. As he prays to the Lord, Solomon is standing in the gap between the people and God.
I saw this tree while on the same hike. The funny thing is that I have walked by this tree so many times on previous hikes, but today it really caught my heart as I continued to think about this calling to stand in the gap. Here is this path and yet there is the tree right in the middle that you have to go around to keep going. I think this feels a lot like what it means to stand in the gap as a pastor – it’s standing in the path of life and faithfully going before the Lord whether people notice or not, whether they hear the prayer or not, whether they make the connection or not. But continuing to stand in the gap as Solomon did.