Rev. Peter A. Olsen
Rev. Rachel M. Zarnke
From the Pastor's Desk
A Message from Pastor Zarnke
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Philippians 1:27a
My experience teaching Sunday School this past year has had a tremendous impact on my faith life. The little disciples that come faithfully each week to sing, pray, hear stories and have fun together are one of the highlights of my week; I love teaching them about Jesus, and watching them soak up all that a life in Christ has to offer. We are just in the beginning of our journey together, but I am looking forward to lots of meaningful time together.
Some of what we've shared was expected: they love the stories, they relate to Bible characters and get excited to hear "what happens next". Much of this experience, however, has been a delightful surprise. No matter how much academic preparation or prior interaction a person has, kids will always bring out the unexpected in life.
My biggest surprise is has been the level of fame and notoriety this has brought me in the minds and imaginations of those I teach. The level of enthusiasm during our classes and their attention to what I am saying is remarkable. When I come by and see them during the day at Trinity Lutheran School, they scream with delight and dogpile to hug me. I have even heard that I have been a topic of their conversation and playtime at homes, and that they recount tales of my heroism, whether real or imagined. It is ever so flattering to know that these young people would run right past a myriad of the powerful and famous in our world in order to give me a hug!
This relationship has had a tremendous effect on my spiritual life that has helped me to more fully understand the love of God and my role as His witness. This intensification began as I ruminated over my worthiness of their high estimation of me. With these young on-lookers, I am suddenly even more aware of the quality of life that I lead and the witness to Christ that I demonstrate. Having several pairs of impressionable eyes absorbing my every move makes me take my life and my witness to the Gospel even more seriously than ever. In their presence, I have a heightened consciousness of what I say and how I react to things because I know that they will soak up every second of it. Even out of their sight, I strive to conduct myself as someone who is worthy of their trust, their emulation, and their love. It is one thing to follow Christ in order to help myself lead a good life, it I quite another level entirely to lead a life that helps others to be drawn to Christ as well.
In reality, this is the way we are all called to act as Christians; living out and engaging our lives in a way that not only draw us to God, but that preaches to others in a way that helps them to connect with the love of Christ as well. Our best sermon is always going to be the way we lead our lives. Whether we are explicitly acting on behalf of Christ and his church, or whether we are simply going about our daily lives, our actions and activities are observable to others. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul exhorts his readers saying, "whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ". It is not possible to live up to Christs' expectations for us, but our daily repentance and re-commitment to this gospel form the backbone of a life in Christ that is can be witnessed by others.