This month my family and I will have been here four years. Does it seem like four years to you? Not to me and Jill. Even though they’ve gone by fast, the last four years have been some of our best since Jill and I have been married. Alex and Aaron also love it here very much too.
C.F.W. Walther, our first president of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, said to his students one evening during a lecture in St. Louis that a pastor should see his call as a call to paradise—even if he’s called to the bleakest place on earth. I tell you, Sherwood Oregon is hardly the bleakest place on earth! That makes my call here even more like paradise. But Walther wasn’t just talking about the climate and terrain of a particular place a pastor might get called to. He was also talking about the privilege of serving God’s people—feeding them Word and Sacrament, just being with them through their lives, and loving them.
When I started seminary, our teachers told us we were in for a spiritual battle with the devil. Because we were embarking on a four year journey of intense study of Scripture, worship, and church work, Satan was going to pull out all the stops to derail us off the pastoral ministry track. I remember preparing myself for that, but what happened seemed to me just the opposite. For me, my eyes and ears were opened wider than ever before, and my faith was increased beyond what I expected. That has continued for me here as your pastor. For four year now I have confessed my sins with you and believed the sweet words of forgiveness from our Lord; I’ve communed with you at the altar; I’ve brought you the Word of God; I’ve taught the school children the love of Jesus; I’ve studied God’s Word with you; we’ve shared our life stories together; I’ve walked in parades with you; I’ve celebrated God’s blessings with you; we’ve prayed together; I’ve confirmed your children; I’ve blessed your homes; I’ve visited you in the hospital; I’ve visited you in your homes; I’ve watched your children grow; I’ve congratulated them on their accomplishments; I’ve watched them sing, act, dance, and play sports; I’ve had breakfast, lunch, and dinner with you; I’ve watched movies with you; I’ve gone on fun trips with you; I’ve married some of you, I’ve buried your loved ones, and I’ve baptized your children. You have received my family with open arms; you’ve cared for and nurtured my children; you’ve studied God’s Word with my wife; you’ve prayed for us; you’ve given us food; you’ve given us generous gifts; you’ve forgiven us when we’ve messed up; you’ve loaned us your car; and you’ve shown us the love of Jesus. I could go on and on, but from my point of view, my call to St. Paul Lutheran Church is as close to paradise as one can get.
My wife, kids and I love it here, and we love you. I just thought after a very fast four years gone by, you’d like to know.
May God bless and keep you,
FROM PASTOR KIESSLING…
Summer is coming! I am looking forward to its arrival. How about you? Maxine and I are looking forward to going to San Antonio, Texas in July for the National Youth Gathering. Our son, Mark, is a director for it. A number of youth will be there among the 25,000 who will attend.
It seems like we have had a number of disasters in the world. The Oklahoma Tornado was the most recent. Things like this happen because we live in a fallen sinful world. Psalm 115:16 helps us to understand. It says “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth He has given to the children of men.” We have messed it up. But the day of salvation will come. We will be given a new place to live—Heaven. Jesus makes this possible through His death on the cross. He has redeemed us. This Earth with all its troubles will pass away but we will live in the splendor of Heaven.
There will be no Senior Saints Luncheon in June or July. We will have an annual picnic in August.
Now for a little humor:
An elderly couple met their demise in an auto accident and were transported to Heaven. The faithful couple were recognized by St. Peter and escorted into the welcome center, where they began to take in all the wonder and amazement of the place. St. Peter pointed out the food court and told them that they could of course eat anything and not worry about their health. The husband especially began partaking of the pastries and desserts. The wife was amazed at the beauty, the peace and the joy she felt and commented over and over about what a nice place Heaven was and how happy she felt to be there. However, the husband began looking quite grim. His wife inquired what the problem was. The husband sneered, “If it weren’t for you and your oat bran muffins and health food, we’d probably have been here 15 years ago!”
-As told by firstname.lastname@example.org
May you have a great summer in the SONshine of Jesus! God bless you!