Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton



This originally appeared in a Facebook post on July 20, 2016.

I love the concept of “intercession.” Over the years it has been wonderful to hear and to say, “When you are unable or not strong enough to pray, there is someone, somewhere who is praying for you.” We intercede on behalf of those who cannot pray.

Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton with son T.J., left, and dad Jim.

Many of you know that my father, Jim, has been struggling with life in an ICU here in Brandenton, Florida. I, along with my sister, Jamie and my brother-in-law Brian are here with him and my mom, shuttling back and forth from their home to the hospital. Our two oldest kids, Elizabeth and T.J., have also been here providing the support and care that only grandchildren can seem to provide.

Dad is immersed in a deep struggle. As a result of a fall early last week, he broke three vertebrae in his neck. After surgery he suffered a heart attack. The injury has left him unable to swallow with no use of his arms. Speech is garbled and rough to understand. He fades in and out of awareness of his surroundings. He is, quite honestly, a shell of what he was just a few short weeks ago.

Today another Jim arrived in the ICU. Rev. Jim Martin, a retired pastor here in Florida, is a caring shepherd, a good listener, and a special friend. He means quite a lot to our family. During his visit, Jim struggled, as we did, to understand what Dad was trying to say. He listened patiently and engaged us in conversation to pass the time.

When Jim announced that he was preparing to leave, we gathered around Dad’s bed. I then said, “We’re going to ask Jim to pray for us.” At that very moment, Jim began to pray. It wasn’t Jim, the pastor. It was Jim, the patient. In words that were as clear as they had been for days, Jim the Dad, began to pray: “We thank you, dear God, for this life. We thank you for how good you are to us.” As we have come to expect, our Father, husband, and spiritual rock was praying a prayer of thanksgiving.

During the last few days, my Dad has asked about the people in my current Annual Conference (Western Pa.) and the people in my new Annual Conference (New York). He has asked about my colleague bishops, the situation in the world, the state of the church, the condition of my Mom, and the record of the Pirates. When his mind is distant, we wonder what he is thinking. When his mind is close, we have no doubt where his mind is at. It’s focused on somebody else.

I want to thank all of you who have been interceding for Dad and for us. I also want to remind you, that the one you are praying for is interceding as well. Truth be told, he’s probably interceding for you.

It doesn’t get any better than that.


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