Grace to you in this new week.
I’ve known a great many pastors over the years. For a moment, I wish to reflect on two that I hold in the highest esteem. The first is a close partner in ministry here at St. Paul — Pastor Don Ofsdahl. He does most of the visitation for the congregation which allows me the chance to do all that I have to do as the senior pastor. Don is always right there. He still preaches, does weddings and funerals, and helps out other congregations with interim and supply work, just as he did prior to my coming to St. Paul.
This past week, Don’s grand-daughter’s husband was killed in a tragic automobile accident. Don will be doing the funeral on Thursday. Funerals are always challenging because the really good pastors invest a part of themselves into the families who have suffered the loss of a loved one. A part of them grieves too. But to do the funeral for one of your own family members makes it so much harder. I know. I did the funerals for my grandparents and my father and mother. Yet, I know Don will do a wonderful job because the Holy Spirit will guide him and give him the strength he needs so that, even amidst tears, the words of hope and God’s love will ring clear for all.
My prayers, and I hope yours too, are with him and the whole family at this difficult time. If it were not for Christ our Lord, what hope would any of us have; but, thanks be to God, Jesus is with us and He will be with Don and the family.
The second pastor is a friend and colleague of my days in Minnesota as both president and instructor at Beyond the River Academy. Pastor Warren Baker is a dynamo. He, too, is beyond the normal retirement age of many of our peers, like Pastor Don and even myself but, continues to work because of his love of the Lord. Last week, he ended up in the hospital and underwent surgery. Thankfully all went well and soon he will be up and at it again. It’s tough to keep a good man down. My prayers go out to Warren and his wife, Karen, on his recovery. The Holy Spirit will continue to watch over him and heal him for further service in God’s work, of this I am sure.
In becoming aware of these two special men and the challenges they face, I cannot help but think how blessed those of us called to serve as pastors are. This is probably a good thing, maybe even a God thing, because there is a growing shortage of pastors to serve in the church. Fewer people are going to the seminaries to learn the necessary skills. Being a parish pastor won’t make you rich in today’s world. In addition, congregations are dealing with fewer pastors being available to serve because the baby boomers are retiring and their numbers are not being replaced. Fortunately, people like Don and Warren will continue to serve the church in whatever capacity God has for them as long as they have the strength and ability to do so. They love the Lord and can’t think of anything else they would rather do. I feel the same. Such people are a blessing to us all.
I just wanted you to know how special people like Pastor Don and Pastor Warren are for the church and to me personally. It is a privilege to work with them and count them as dear friends and partners in ministry.
Have a great week and keep them in your prayers.
Pastor Lee R. Harder