Saturday, May 06, 2017
Jesus is risen. He has risen indeed. Alleluia. As a church, as believers in Christ, every Spring season we remember Jesus Christ who has risen from the grave. Not only do we remember that is Jesus alive but that we are still waiting for his return to this Earth to bring his people everlasting home. And as Ascension Day is coming soon, we remember that after Jesus arose from the grave, he also ascended into the heavens, kind of like Elijah, and is sitting at the right hand of God the Father.
Because we just celebrated Jesus’ resurrection from the grave that means we Christians have finished the season of Lent, the time to remember Jesus’ three-year ministry has he walked this Earth. At Hanover Lutheran Church, the seventh-grade youth affirm their faith as an adult on the Sunday before Easter, Palm Sunday. This year six students graduated from this two-year confirmation class. Over the year they grew in wisdom and knowledge of Jesus Christ and his promises of eternal salvation. I enjoyed watching these youth mature over the year, and I too matured along with them.
Now, what do pool noodles had to do with church gatherings? When the youth were waiting for confirmation class to begin, they enjoyed tagging each other with a pool noodle, actually half of a noodle. Whenever they found the noodles in the closet, I stepped back and let them run around so that they burned up their endless supply of energy, or at least lower their level of energy. The time before class was intended for homework from school, but they often had completed the homework before they even arrived at the church which meant more time for play.
The kids have not only grown up, but they also have grown together. Some said comically asked, “If I failed my second year could I stay for a third year?” They enjoyed their time together, and they had made friends that could last a lifetime.
What will also last a lifetime is their understanding of the Christian faith basics. They have them down so well I had the youth share the Ten Commandments with their family without warning.
Seeing the youth graduate was definitely an emotional time. And to see them graduate also means that my time to leave Hanover is coming sooner than later as my 52-week vicarage comes to an end when the month of August arrives.
But the fun isn’t over yet. Pool noodles also mean fishing retreat. Before the men left for their annual fishing retreat, Pastor and I and others made fishing lines, juglines, out of pool noodles, PVC pipe, string, and a fishing hooks. Then one morning at the retreat, we set sail on the lake in the Black Pearl, and we placed over twenty juglines in the water. That morning we caught only one catfish. Yet, it was an exciting time, for the afternoon before we had not caught one fish. A good rain storm had come in the day before arrived at the campsite, so the fish had plenty of food coming in from the water running off into the lake. The fish weren’t interested in our fishing lines. The weather man had also forecasted rain during the time when we were at the retreat. What ended up happening was a day with overcast weather and then the next day was clear skies until evening came. That evening, the rain came down in bucks. Each day during the retreat the lake filled up several feet higher each day.
We didn’t have to be soaked though. We had cabins to sleep in, and a cafeteria type of a building to eat and relax in. But for not having the most favorable conditions for fishing, the men had a great time. Over fifty men had showed up for this event. The men were not only from Hanover, but they also brought friends and family. Together we had devotions and Sunday worship. Some loved to fish, and others struggled with the patience to fish. Nevertheless, we all had a good time being away from routine life and being in the outdoors just being men.
You may have been wondering, who is the other guy in the picture with me. His name is Pastor Chris. He has been called to a church out in San Francisco. He had graduated from the seminary in St. Louis the same year my supervising pastor, Pastor Tony, graduated. They have been friends since they met in the seminary.
You never know who you are going to bump into or tag with a pool noodle as you go along in your walk as a child of God. But I pray that wherever God has taken you and will take you will strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ. God has and will continue to send down his Holy Spirit into this Earth to give us strength and faith to embrace what tomorrow brings.
Romans 8:26-28 The Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Vicar Sylvan Finger