A couple of years ago, while proofreading, I ran across this little story about Wyneken, the second president of the Synod, and it made my heart a little happy:
“When the settlers, who had already gotten to know him, saw him approaching from afar, they greeted him joyfully, congregated about him, and listened desirously to his comprehensible, heartfelt, lively sermon. Time permitting, several hours were also dedicated to conversation. He knew how to talk brilliantly, to old and young, men and women, about cows and pigs, about corn and potatoes, and yet always knew how to spice up his language. He associated with the people in the most simple and jovial manner, however, always remaining the pastor.”
That kind of earthy pastor, the kind that can meet people where they’re at, is rare. We are blessed in this life if we meet one or two such men, the kind who can quote French poetry and sing German Christmas carols and ride in a combine with a farmer and shoot a deer with a hunter. These are the kinds of pastors whose feet I’ve been humbled to sit at, the kind that give themselves up to the seasons, who are not too proud to go where our tenth-of-a-mile-long stretch of lilacs can be smelled blocks away on the slightest hint of a breeze, where the squeal of pigs settles down with the sun and hummingbirds hover beneath the window feasting on flowers. These are the kinds of men who rejoice to join families on their front porches, talking theology, hog confinements, hymnody, raising kids, history and hilarity, or who aren’t too proud to sit at worn kitchen tables with faithful and hard-working men and women, eating pork burgers, coleslaw, and lemonade.That kind of pastor ought to make all of us very thankful indeed.
Is your pastor willing to meet your where you’re at? Good. Can he “talk brilliantly,” not just about the Church but about cows and pigs? Better. Does he give you Jesus, straight up and just for you? Best.
Because if that is true, then blessed are you to say with Wyneken’s parishioners:
“He was therefore a very welcomed pastor, for whose coming they yearned, toward whom their eyes shone, toward whom their arms were held out.”
And that is very good indeed.