This weekend I was supposed to give a greeting as a part of the afternoon program at the church Centennial. I shared a few memories, but there were a lot of things that were left unsaid, small things, big things. Here are a few things I remember:
*the gnarled hands of Jenny, a former organist of one of the churches where I served, and how she loved picked herring.
*the smell of pancakes wafting up from the church basement during the Easter Sunrise Service.
*the taste of fresh asparagus, home-made jam, deer sausage, pheasant and green beans, among other things...
*the fact that the Easter Sunrise service, led by the youth at 6:30 in the morning, was the biggest service of the year.
*the sound of four young people from the same family, who all played the saxaphone on special occasions.
*sitting on the front porch of the parsonage with a parish member, talking about which songs she wanted sung at her funeral
*taking a large group from the congregation up to Watertown to serve a meal at a place called "The Banquet." We made meatballs.
*going to the cemetery with confirmation students to make rubbings on the gravestones. We displayed the rubbings in the churches on All Saints Sunday. The trouble was, it was dark at the cemetery. And, it was Halloween.
*riding in a parish-member's pickup one icy January evening. He picked me up to go and visit his mother, who was dying.
*sitting in the kitchen of the wife of one of my parish members, going through the Small Catechism together, so that she could be confirmed Lutheran and join the church.
*sitting in the kitchen of a young couple, preparing them for the baptism of their first child.
There were many more funerals than baptisms those four years in rural South Dakota. However, there was a large and active confirmation class and youth group. A few new members joined.
The little boy that I baptized lit the altar candles on Sunday. There are many children in the small community now. They are some of the children of those youth I had in confirmation. The seeds of faith were watered and nurtured by their parents, their extended families, the congregation, and me. But mostly they were watered by the Holy Spirit.