I am still processing the news of Bud's cancer. Bud is one of the spiritual rocks of our community of faith. In some ways, the pastor of Trinity hasn't changed in more than 30 years. Up until recently, I often joked that I have never lived in fear of a parishioner's funeral until I met Bud. He is one of the most amazing, faithful men I know...and he is definitely the most amazing 82 year old I know.
The news that he has cancer of the esophagus and liver has been with us now for several weeks. Most of the conversations I have with folks in our church family involve tears...mine and theirs. As you would expect from a man of deep faith and discipleship, he is both fully in touch with his mortality and his faith. He keeps hearing the Lord tell him "just trust me" which makes me cry all over again in awe of this trust.
When I first got the news, my reaction was shock. That was almost immediately followed by spending a morning in a tearful heap. Now that has given way to a deeper understanding of the "peace that passes all understanding" from the verses I love so much in Philippians 4:4-7. I really do believe that God will carry us through all of the pain, change, and joy that lies ahead.
Bud has been through one chemo treatment, and has had a port put in. He tolerated the first treatment well, and he is hopeful for the future. It may be stage 4 cancer, but he is not going anywhere soon. I find I am buoyed by his hope.
I just keep thinking about all of the ways he blesses so many in our community...both within the church and beyond. Just today I was talking (and crying) with another woman in the church. She told me a story I had never heard- when she was in financial straits a few years ago, Bud knew she was trying to get a loan to pay off the medical and other bills. He asked her how things were going, and she shared that she had been declined for the loan. His response? He went immediately to the bank and co-signed for her.
I could tell dozens more stories of how Bud has followed Jesus in tangible ways. And I have only known him for 4 1/2 years. His hospital visitation and service as treasurer for administering funds for folks in crisis create stories every week. As time goes on, I expect that I will hear an avalanche of stories of how Bud has blessed person after person in our community and beyond.
I think the most precious gift a pastor receives is the gift of serving in meaningful relationship with folks in the church... folks who give themselves over completely to living the gospel. Bud is such a person. I am so grateful for him, perhaps now more than ever.