I was confronted today with a parishioner who was angry at me because I did not make it to the funeral services of her brother-in-law. She was actually apologizing for her anger. I believe that I was able to handle it in a manner that left her feeling better and still connected to the church and to God.
I believe much of her anger was directed at God because she felt that it was too soon for her brother-in-law to die. And as God's representative on earth (in her eyes), I took the brunt of that anger.
I seldom miss important events in the life of my parishioner's even if they are the periphery of the church. But during this time, I was sicker than a dog and couldn't get out of bed much less make it to a funeral. Of course, there is also the entire issue of infecting a room full of people.
I know that this is a normal part of a pastor's life but it makes you feel like you have failed, both your people and God, when it happens. And then it reminds us that we are not perfect (and in my case, far from perfect). I am truly sorry that I wasn't there to support this woman during this difficult time.