From the Desk of Pastor Olsen
I have mentioned to some of you and alluded in a sermon or two that Sesle and I are contemplating a move. This, in turn, has led to speculation about whether I might be considering another call or retirement. The answer is "no" and "no." Perhaps, though, I should fill you in on what is happening in our lives. For some time now, it has become apparent that our house, which once was home to no less than seven members of our family, is now more house than we need or want. That being the case, we plan to put our home up for sale in the near future and move into an apartment. We are also purchasing land up in Cape Cod for a summer home, partly as a sound investment for the proceeds from the sale of our house and partly to ensure that when the time comes for us to move on, there will be a place for us to go. The long and short of it is, I am not going anywhere anytime soon. Naturally, I hope this news brings reassurance rather than disappointment. But if the latter is the case, hang in there with me a while longer and remember that "this too shall pass."
Even this rather minor move has caused me to reflect on the direction of my life. I am beginning to realize that with smaller living quarters comes the necessity of parting with a lot of possessions. It isn't that my furniture, appliances and wall hangings are so very valuable. Most of them have served their purpose and probably won't fetch much the garage sale we are planning. But they have associations with precious memories. The old couch on which Sesle and I sat together when we were young as we planned our life together, the carpet on which I built Lego castles with my children, the table around which our extended family sat for holiday meals-they represent parts of my life that I find hard to let go. It is as though my life is being pruned away.
But wait a minute! Isn't that exactly what Jesus tells us must happen? "Every branch of mine that...does bear fruit [my Father] prunes, that it may bear more fruit." John 15:2. I don't think Jesus wants me fixating on the past, longing for all that I have lost and wishing that I did not have to move forward. That is just not fruitful. I cannot take hold of all that God wants to give me today if my hands are busy trying to hang on to memories of yesterday. That is why God has to take the pruning shears to me and prune away the days of my life, prune back my possessions, prune back my energy, strength and stamina. Sooner or later, I will have nothing left but my connection to Jesus, the true Vine. That is exactly where God wants me-and all of us.
When I understand my whole life as a lesson in learning to abide in Jesus, it becomes clear to me how good it is that God cares enough to prune me. It becomes clear to me also that, no matter how poor, old, decrepit and helpless I become, my best days are still in front of me. Even when it appears to the rest of the world that this old branch is dead, it will still be connected to Jesus, the living Vine. So when there is nothing left but to close my weary eyes, Jesus promises to be there as he always has "with just one more surprise." See "Borning Cry," Lutheran Worship # 732, vs. 3. Wishing you all a blessed and fruitful Easter season!