MOMENTS WITH THE MINISTER: Wisdom from above

By Frank Drenner
Special to the Herald Democrat

Earlier this summer, I had the privilege of participating in the memorial service for the Rev. Patsy Brundige. Patsy and I met and served together at Oak Lawn United Methodist Church in Dallas for many years. When I came to the church in the late 1990s, she was recently retired, I was newly ordained. There was a generational gap between us-- she was actually only six years younger than my grandmother. She always had an open door she was generous with her knowledge, her energy, her listening. We were both associate pastors, and with that position comes a certain amount of freedom to create, challenge, and plot. Patsy and I loved plotting together. One particular summer the associates were going to have the run of the place, and we had the most fun making plans for sermons and studies and activities. We felt like rebels, almost. In fact, when the senior pastor of the church returned from his months-long holiday, he forbade us from meeting together. The ban didn’t last.

I have a copy of the book "Hope for a Widow’s Shattered World," which Patsy co-authored with her dear friend Pat Millican. Patsy inscribed it with the words, “To Frank- in appreciation of our shared ministry, especially the sensational summer program- what fun!” Her book is filled with her own experiences of widowhood. Carefully and thoughtfully constructed, it guides the widow through the process of grief and recovery. As I thumbed through the pages recently, I found this: “A widow’s work can be divided into three tasks: surviving, stretching, and moving.

  • Surviving requires women to stand on their own two feet, saying, ‘I will endure.’
  • Stretching begins with a few tentative steps toward more difficult activities, saying, ‘I will struggle.’
  • Moving is a time of action, living out the resolve, ‘I will grow and change.’ “Who is wise and understanding among you?

Show by your good life that your works are done with gentleness born of wisdom. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not be boastful and false to the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, devilish. For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace” (James 3:13-18).

Wisdom is one of the twenty spiritual gifts outlined in the New Testament. It is the gift of insight obtained over a lifetime of learning and reflection. People who are wise are great mentors, encouragers, and challengers. Another less obvious facet of wisdom is the ability to listen and ask questions. People truly gifted in wisdom don’t sit under a tree, sharing advice to anyone who asks. They have a presence about them that invites the person in the other chair to speak. Patsy was one of the wisest persons I have ever known. She had her opinions, yes; and sometimes they were so truthful they could be sharp.

According to Barbara and Dan Dick, wisdom is defined as “the gift of translating life experience into spiritual truth and of seeing the application of scriptural truth to daily living. The wise in our faith communities offer balance and understanding that transcend reason. Wisdom applies a God-given common sense to our understanding of God’s will . Wisdom helps us remain focused on the important work of God , and it enables newer, less mature Christians to benefit from those who have been blessed by God to share deep truths.” Attribution: http://equippedforeverygoodwork.wordpress.com.

Yup, that was Patsy! She was generous in sharing her insights, her creativity, her wisdom. She survived, stretched and moved throughout her life and ministry. After 88 years, she has earned her blessed rest in the Lord. For as long as you and I continue in this life, may we endure, struggle, grow and change, sharing hospitality and holy boldness wherever God places us.

Depart in peace, dear sister Patsy;

in the name of God the Father who created you;

in the name of Christ who redeemed you;

in the name of the Holy Spirit who sanctifies you.

May you rest in peace, and dwell for ever with the Lord.

Frank Drenner

Frank Drenner was ordained in 1998 and has served as pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Sherman since July 2016. He is married to Christy, and together they have three sons. Find more from Drenner at http://www.pastorfrankdrenner.com. The views and opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Herald Democrat.