2018 January Pastor’s Pen

From the Pastor… 

At my mother’s funeral last November, I didn’t give the homily, but was invited to say a few words.  In thinking about my mother’s role in helping to form my faith journey, it reminded me of the importance of attending Sunday School and Worship, no matter what our age.  Therefore, I would like to share some of my testimony that may help you see the importance of attending Sunday School and worship. 

     They taught us in our Pastoral Care & Counseling class in seminary that when both of our parents die, you feel like an orphan, no matter how old you are, or how many other family members or friends you may have; and that there is always that maternal connection to the one who gave you life, no matter how your relationship was growing up. 

     So I give all of you my gratitude and thanks for being my extended spiritual family and friends to me and my family, and of course to my mother.  And in her latter days, especially Pastor Tara, Chaplain Dan, and those of the church who visited and brought her communion.  And to the wonderful staff at the Lutheran Home. 

     Many mothers have a spiritual connection with their children and so did my mother. I have no memory of it, but when I was 4 or 5 years old, my mother and I were walking down 3rd St. across from the Post Office.  She happened to glance next to her, and I wasn’t there!  When she looked back I was standing on the sidewalk with my head strained upward, transfixed on the tall steeple of what was then First Congregationalist Church (now the Spire Theater).  She tried calling my name a couple of times, but I stood there, frozen, until she walked back and took my arm. 

          Perhaps my mother sensed something and thought maybe she should starting me to Sunday School, and then later dragged…I mean took me to Confirmation classes on Saturday mornings for three years!  Then I found myself getting more involved in the many ministries here, especially the Joint Neighborhood Project.  In fact, it got to the point where I was spending so much time at the church that my parents thought that I must have a girlfriend here!  Why else would a young man want to spend so much time at a church?  Yesterday, I went and stood in front of that same church and looked up at that tall steeple (in the rain this time).  A few people coming out of the Post Office might have thought this a little weird- a grown man staring up a church steeple in the rain; but this time I affirmed my ordination vows to God.

     The other odd spiritual experience my mom had was when she was in the hospital for some kind of heart condition.  We 3 kids were young and probably didn’t realize how serious it was.  My mother never told me this until much later in life, but one day while she was in real pain, she felt her spirit start to rise above her body!  She said she felt a sense of peace, but then said, “I can’t go now. I still have 3 children to raise.”  She also said that after that experience she wasn’t afraid of death anymore.

     Now, as someone who has a background in both psychology and theology, I admit that I’ve always been somewhat skeptical of such stories. I’ve heard and read such accounts and my default answer is simply to say, “I can’t speak for your experience.”   

I was taught that faith is not dependent on the number of experiences we have.  We may have no experiences or many experiences. But when a miracle happens, something objective and subjective happens at the same time.  Two people seeing or experiencing the same event will interpret it differently.  One may see it as a natural event, while another sees the hand of God in it.  Whatever it was, it was real to my mother.

          So after 96 years, you could say that God’s purpose has been fulfilled through my mother’s life.  So on Tuesday morning Chaplain Dan knelt down close to her, took her hand, and said, “it’s ok, you can let go now and go to Jesus.”  And so, this time she did.

                           Yours in Christ,

                          Pastor Nelson