Just Call Me Pastor

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A blog by Bishop Emeritus Donald N. Bastian
Updated: 3 hours 16 min ago

The Passing of a Great Man

Thu, 05/02/2024 - 06:28

Many will have heard by now of the passing of Donald N. Bastian, originator of this Just Call Me Pastor blog. Dad went to be with the Lord on April 6, 2024. He was 98.

Dad was born and raised in Saskatchewan by English immigrant parents who left the coalfields of Lancashire in search of a better life as landed immigrants. They accumulated between them a total of six years of formal education (six years by his mother, and six weeks by his father). His parents had known destitution in England, and they therefore possessed profound “immigrant vigor” and a boundless work ethic, which Dad “inherited.” His insistent traits were motivation, wedded to a kind of daring and entrepreneurialism, energy and a strong work ethic, curiosity, a sense of humor, and a relentless drive for righteousness and justice in all his dealings.

Dad’s story is profoundly intertwined with Mother’s. She was a remarkable person in her own right, the infrastructure of family life, and left us for her eternal home with the Lord in November 2023, at 97 years of age.

Dad’s initial plan was to be a singer. A recording from approximately 1945 revealed a surpassingly beautiful and musical voice. His calling from the Lord changed to pastoral ministry, however, and Dad and mother together pastored churches in Lexington, Kentucky, New Westminster, British Columbia, and Greenville, Illinois. The remaining 19 years of their ministry were spent in the bishopric of both the United States, and Canadian branches of Free Methodism.

One of Dad’s books is The Pastor’s First Love: Reflections on a high and holy calling. Dad’s first love was indeed the Lord and his holy Word. Immediately thereafter came his love for Mother. He told me perhaps two years ago: “I want everyone to know that your mother and I lived out a real love story.”  Next came the family. He cared about the details of our lives, right down to his great-grandchildren.  And finally, he loved writing, music, cars, and chocolate.

His final book is a memoir: From Kitchen Chair to Pulpit.

Dad is interred next to Mother in a family cemetery near Dunnville, Ontario. What should go on their headstone? Righteousness and Justice are the Foundation of Your Throne? For Our Citizenship is in Heaven? Home At Last with the Lord? Absent From the Body is Present With the Lord? If only the entire Bible could be written there…

For those interested, Dad’s (and Mother’s) funeral services can be found on the website of Wesley Chapel Free Methodist Church Toronto: https://www.wcfmto.com/.

PS: Dad wanted some editing done to some of his later blogs, and JCMP may not shut down quite yet… R. Bastian

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What should a Christian think about the following story?

Mon, 03/11/2024 - 11:00

Prior to her passing on December 6, 2023, Mom was fading fast. Near the end, at 97, she was bedfast and in hospice care in hers and Dad’s little apartment. It was a difficult time for family and most of all, for Mom, who was uncomfortable, but thankfully not in a lot of pain. I had my last visit with her just weeks before she went to heaven; Jan was in Kingston with her dad, who was also fading fast. 

Mom and I had some very nice conversations. She almost always had her eyes closed or maybe she squinted through just one eye when talking to me, because she was experiencing double vision. And her face was often mildly furrowed with … what was it? Anxiety? Discomfort? Deep thought? 

But one morning when I arrived, Mom’s face had a distinctly serene appearance, with even a slight and faintly active smile.  I greeted her and asked what she was thinking.  She paused, her beatific smile increased slightly, and still with eyes closed, she said something like: 

“This is such a wonderful film!  So wonderful.  And it’s true!  It’s true!”

“What’s true?” I asked. 

She replied, slowly and deliberately, with her continuing smile, “….. Kindness …. Overwhelms… Suffering.  Kindness and … that other word…”

After waiting for her to find it, I offered, “Maybe “love?”  

She seemed to assent and continued with, “It would be such a service to the human race to see this film. I can see the whole human race and it gives me a new perspective.”

I asked, “It would serve humanity to know that kindness and love overwhelm suffering?”   

She agreed, then after a pause, asked me, “Where is this film?” 

I said, “I think it is in your head.” 

Really? She asked. 

After a pause during which she seemed to be still considering that idea, I said, “I think maybe you are being given a vision from heaven.” She seemed pleased. 

She remembered this “vision” later in the day, and the next day too, and I got the sense that it continued to nourish her spirit.         

We can’t of course know the entire meaning of this kind of experience. We somehow want a vision of heaven to include correct doctrine, a statement of the Gospel, a vision of Jesus our Lord. She was weak enough that our conversation went no further, but I find it immensely comforting that her vision is no longer double or fragmentary, but now full. Complete.

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