Friday, November 21, 2008

A Birthday Gift of Sorts

Well, today would have been Pastor Larry Meyer's 62nd birthday. He was my friend and mentor, and basically the person who dragged me kicking and screaming into ministry. I've written about him a couple of times.

To keep a promise I made on Facebook, as I write this I'm finishing up a beer in his honor. Yes, it's just after 10 AM, but that was the designated Facebook remembrance time...and if today were a Saturday and there was college football on TV, it wouldn't be TOO horribly early, right? Larry loved his beer (and college football, for that matter). Mostly Schlitz, because it was cheap, but still was (sort of) beer. I didn't have any Schlitz available, but Bud Light will just have to suffice. Forgive me, Larry, for purchasing a 24-pack of Bud Light for 5 dollars more than a 30-pack of Schlitz would have cost me.

Larry, you would have called that bad stewardship.

But the beer isn't the gift.

No Larry, my gift to you today, as well as to the family who loved you and supported your ministry for so long, is this: my public announcement that, about ten years after you first made the suggestion, and about five years after you began the process of hounding me mercilessly, I've finally given in and have submitted an application for seminary. That's right, the M.Div. program. Ordination track. At Luther in St. Paul.

Damn it Larry, you win. Happy?

I know what your gut reaction would be. Bad stewardship. For about the same investment, the church could have had me already ordained, and next year I could be looking at a 5 year ordination anniversary instead of fretting over how I'm supposed to pass Koine Greek. But you never would have said me at least. Or at least, not seriously. You would have said something to the effect of "better late than never," and then would have put me on a preaching and ministry schedule designed to give me a better first-hand education than I'd ever receive through lecture and discussion in a classroom.

Oh, about the classroom. Larry, you knew that one of my big hangups concerning seminary was the relocation part of it. Picking up my family for two years of classes, picking up again for internship, a third time for classes again, and then finally for first call. Luther Seminary now has what they call the Distributive Learning program for the M.Div. That means that I can stay in Lincoln, take about 2/3 of my classes online, take the other 1/3 on campus in St. Paul in short week-long intensives, and do my internship, CPE, and contextual education all here at home. Without that program, no way would I be doing this. I know it's a new program, and I know you were never all that hot on all this internet crap. But I also know that you were big on finding ways for folks who had the tools and the calling to pursue that call, and I can't help but think that you'd be telling me, "Well, I'd rather have you on campus, but if this is what it takes, then what the hell are you waiting for."

I'm not doing this for you, Larry. I'm not chasing ghosts here. But I do recognize that you were the one who got me back on the road that eventually led me to where I am now. There have been so many other twists along the way, so many other folks who have enabled the journey to continue. But today, this is my gift to you.

Happy birthday, my good friend. Soli deo gloria. And thanks for giving me an excuse to have a beer at 10 in the morning.



Brian said...

I'd agree with Larry - better late than never. Blessings to you as you take the first of many steps in this journey. You'll be in our prayers.

hereistand said...

A touching tribute to a man without peer -- in so many ways but especially as a "friend and mentor."

Well done, Larry. Well done, good and faithful servant.

(And I really CAN hear Larry say: "Better late than never.")

Susan said...

YESSSSS!!!! Way to go, Matt!! You are going to make one fantastic pastor. Thank you for sharing your gifts! I'm so happy for you, your family, and the greater Lutheran church as a whole, because we need more preachers like you. You'll be in our prayers, too!

Anonymous said...

I once spent a week with Larry in New Orleans. He was always up for pointing this "lost sheep" in direction of the flock, no matter what time it was on Burbon Street. My first beer tonight was in Memory on Larry the pastor as I thought of him.

Bob Adam

Jeff M. said...

What a wonderful article, and what exciting news! I wish you the best on your latest journey. I know you'll continue to succeed in service to the Lord.

LutherPunk said...

Awesome! And keep the beer close at will come in handy when frustrations with Greek school set in!

Trish said...

Congratulations on this milestone. A friend of mine from my seminary is going to be doing the distance learning thing through Luther next year. Maybe you'll meet. They say the Lutheran world is very small.

Rach said...

Did ya have to go and make me cry, Matt??

What a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing this exciting news with us. I remember hearing Dad talk about your grappling with the decision whether or not to go to seminary years and years ago. I'm so glad to hear that flower has finally bloomed. And on his birthday, no less. A great gift.

Best of luck to you as you take on this newest project. I think you'll find yourself more prepared than you know. The beer always helps, too.

Rev Scott said...

Hell, yes, it's about damned time!

That had to be one of the most delicious Bud Lights anyone has ever quaffed. Yes, it's hard to believe I'm using 'delicious' and 'Bud Light' in the same sentence without a negative connector. Thankfully, it's not nearly so hard to imagine 'Pastor' and 'Matt Schur' in the same sentence.

Good for you - and holy bloggaroni, welcome back to the blogosphere!

Hot Cup Lutheran said...

congratulations and good for you! it takes faith to make that step... duh! sometimes those "seeds" that others threw out for us, just take a while to germinate is all...

schlitz? ick. budlight isn't much better... but it was for a good cause.

david said...

Larry sounds like a great guy. I'm not surprised you miss him. Here's to all the Larrys we've known and loved over the years. Cheers!

Kristy said...

That is awesome news! And what a neat post honoring Larry, whom we also loved very much! You'll love Luther - we did! Praise God! I'm so thankful you finally get to go to seminary! You're in our prayers!

-the Broers Quartet

Coffeepastor said...

Late to the party, but blessings on the beginning of your seminary journey!