I held an old man’s fragile, weathered hand today

I held an old man’s fragile, weathered hand today

I sat beside a hospital bed and held an old man’s hand today. His skin was thin and papery and he struggled to open his eyes. Even when he did blink them to life, he didn’t initially recognize me. It had been a long time. I first met him in the late 1980s when I had just been appointed the student minister at Seaforth Baptist Church in Sydney’s north. It was a small congregation, many of them aging, which is why they could only afford a part-time student minister. I wasn’t exactly what some of them wanted in a minister. I didn’t wear a suit or preach with a booming, authoritarian tone. I was chastised by one older member because she thought the way I conducted the Sunday services was “too cavalier.” The treasurer – a nervous man who squinted a lot while pushing his glasses up his nose – suggested I should stop spending all the church’s hard-earned money. Although, for the life of me, I have no idea what I was apparently frittering it all away on. I didn’t win any friends when I closed their dwindling Wednesday night prayer meeting (at which I was expected to bring a sermon) and tried to start home study groups. One fellow said I would “go down in history” as the

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