By Pastor Mike Ashman Zion Lutheran Church – Jubilee, Rural La Porte City
This week I share a personal note in the form of a letter I wrote to a former classmate just this past week.
I know that your memory is more than a little bit sketchy, but having a great memory is not it’s cracked up to be. Last night, I received a note from one of our seminarians that the Hebrew Bible prof died unexpectedly. I was just in her house as a guest back in August; she hosted a party for the students. She supposedly had a heart attack while traveling, pulled into a Mac and Dons where she fainted. She was only 71—and planning to retire.
When I got the mail this noon, I was glancing through the report I get from Capital University, some how they got my name through Trinity which they now own. Anyway, I was looking through the memorial column, you never know, I came across the name of Jennifer Jones. Like I said, your memory is holier than swiss cheese, but she and I dated for a while, in fact, you could say that she was my first real girlfriend. She used to hang out at the computer lab – I really goofed up that relationship. Jen was only 50 and a lover of animals. I looked at her obit online where they had a video. They had a pic when she was at Capital U. Yep, that was JJ-so beautiful, so young, brought back so many memories – so many emotions.
Some days death kicks you right in the “!!??” – death finds the places where it hurts the most, the places where you are the most vulnerable, and a million thoughts, those forgotten memories rock your head with a mixture of pain and sadness, along with a brief smile.
I share this with you because you are one of those rare connections to my past that still lingers in the air. I swear at times that I could walk back into those hallowed halls at Trinity Seminary and swim in the memories: see Lee Elhard walking through the halls listening to a ball game; see Ron Hals wearing his leisure jackets he purchased at Goodwill (especially the one blaze orange model that nearly blinded us). I could walk into the sacred space of the chapel to hear the voice of Paul Harms booming, to see Merle Hoops smile as he reads the Gospel of John. And then I cry.
They still live in and through me. To me they are still alive. I carry not only their memories- but also their faith and guidance, knowledge and wit.
As for now, I need to compose another confirmation lesson, and hope that one day, I will be remembered.”
55“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:55-57