Luther Seminary God Pause
Thursday, 7/3/2014 Reading: Matthew 11:25-30
In my 52 years as a pastor, I have always given first priority to preschool children. When I preached a final sermon series before retirement titled "The Five Most Important Verses in the Bible," one of the five was "Let the little children come to me."
I will share with you an unlikely partner in this ministry who died eight years ago. His name was Sgt. Norman Johnson. He served in the Air Force during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He tried to enlist in Operation Desert Storm, but was rejected because of age and the effects of malaria and Agent Orange. He had a gravelly voice from barking orders for 26 years but had a special spot for little children.
I met Norm when he was sitting in his backyard, sanding down little cars and trucks he made on his band saw. He never went to church and warned me not to get religious with him. On the other hand, he invited me to help him give away these toys to small children. (I have given away nearly 2,000 on both coasts and the Midwest.) I called him Jesus' silent partner. When I was away in Florida I asked him not to die until I came home. He called me hours before he died and said he couldn't wait. There were two pastors and a priest at his non-religious service.
Norm, a man who was willing to die for his country, spent his last years making sure that the next generation would know they were loved and special. He was my pastoral colleague. He was not really Jesus' silent partner; he was Jesus' undercover agent who secretly smiled when his posse of Christian pastors carried out his mission to love the little children.
Lord of little children and all who receive you as little children, we thank you this Fourth of July weekend for all of our nation's defenders who the love the little children. Amen.
Hubert Nelson Eden Prairie, Minn. Master of Divinity, 1962
Matthew 11:25-30 (NRSV)
25 At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 28 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
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