Monday, July 11, 2011

Take They Our Wife...

12 years ago today I was installed as Associate Pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, Racine, Wisconsin.

The time has flown, and yet in some ways has crept. There have been many joys, as well as some times of frustration. Overall I am thankful for the blessings God has bestowed on me, and I pray I have been of service to these people.

As I think back on the day of my installation, I don't remember too much. I know it was a fairly typical installation service (and it was hot!). Then District President Ron Meyer preached, using the "beautiful feet" text from Isaiah. Other clergy members were in attendance, including the one older pastor whose first words to me we're, "You're YOUNG!" And we sang "Thy Strong Word" and "A Mighty Fortress".

I will always remember singing "A Mighty Fortress" on that day - our recessional hymn. These words were especially poignant for me: "Take they our life, goods, fame, child and wife, let these all be gone, they yet have nothing won, the kingdom ours remaineth"

At the time, my wife Brenda wasn't able to attend the installation, as she lay in a hospital bed in St. Louis. Under treatment for cancer, it really was touch and go for a while. The future was uncertain.

But one thing was certain. "The kingdom ours remaineth" in Christ. For me, and for her, this life's troubles were not worth considering, compared to the glory to be revealed.

God is good. Brenda recovered fully. She very soon joined me in Wisconsin and it's been all downhill since. The congregation was very kind to us, and years later, people still inquire particularly about her health. Three children and 12 great years later, we've hardly looked back.

But it's good to remember those moments of uncertainty - when life stands on a precipice. With hindsight, we can more easily see God's hand of blessing at work . And this can help us look forward with faith, and trust his promises. We know that nothing, not height nor depth, nor angels nor demons, nor hospital beds, nor unemployment, nor natural disaster, no not even death itself, can separate us from God's love in Jesus Christ. The kingdom ours remaineth.