Thursday, May 29, 2008

Blessed by Absence

Mark Little, my neighbor colleague at Stockholm Lutheran church was kind enough to start the groundwork for baccalaureate when I was going to be gone during the preparation phase in Lithuania. Later, by divine design, the work was shifted to youth director Nate Bendorf, soon to be a seminarian. Traditional baccalaureates are planned by clergy and, as such, are sometimes more formal adult-flavored events. This year, we had a change. I did my best with a message based on First Peter 5:1-11. The highlight was the youth director "band." Nate did a great job of coordinating things with our high school principal. As I began my message, I stated that the baccalaureate worship is not an official school function, but is sponsored by the clergy association. But the clergy had very little do do with it. Here's some feedback from after the event:

Steve and Nate... Awesome job last night! Thanks so much for your message - our students are being preyed upon every day and I am so thankful we have a strong church body that lifts them up in prayer every day! Nate, the service was tremendous. Thanks for all of your efforts and coordination. I believe the praise band really set the tone with our students - and it is for them that we do this! Great job to Nate, Ben and the band! In my opinion I would like to see the praise band become an annual tradition included in the service. Do you think this is possible? Again, thanks so much to each of you and the entire ministerial. You are a tremendous pillar of our community and the chief reason Dassel and Cokato are special communities! Could you please forward this message to the other pastors as well?

I did forward the note, but what needs to be said SOMEWHERE is how the Lord works blessing in absence. I was in Lithuania when much of the planning took place. The Lord worked during that time as Nate started to wonder why the youth directors weren't more involved in baccalaureate. When I returned, Nate expressed that, and I said, "go for it!" and in about week a new style of baccalaureate was born. This was born not of human effort, but of God's spirit, working in my absence, and in our conversation.

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