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 that...to 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.