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(Another) Pastor’s Perspective – November 2017

I love autumn. I love the vibrant colors and the dry air. Autumn also reminds me of my grandfather who would regale us with stories of his boyhood in Kansas where they would drive huge teams of horses when they harvested wheat. I loved it when he’d relate how he and his family arrived in Kansas in a covered wagon. Even today, that is an amazing story.

He’d talk of working long hours on the Kansas prairie and of long tables overflowing with food for the workers and how the women folk would work right alongside the men in getting the harvest in. There was some division of labor but not many when your livelihood was threatened by wind or rain. Everyone pitched in.

When I was young, my grandfather had a machine shop and over the years I and my cousins would work there “for grandpa.” He taught us how to operate a lathe and other tools and how to read a blueprint. I don’t believe I ever was told to do anything without grandpa also telling me why. He never gave “orders.” He had this uncanny ability to invite you into working alongside him. I always felt valued when I was with him whether we were working in his shop or fishing for bluegills on a hot summer day.

It was from my grandfather that I learned the value of hard work. And, because of the nature of his work I also learned about precision. Many of the pieces we created out of stock metal became parts used on airplanes and submarines. Tolerances were miniscule. I cannot tell you how important that was in my formation, to be trusted with such responsibility at an early age.

Not many children get to work with their parents or grandparents anymore but when they do it is a wonderful opportunity to build character and to learn simple as well as complex skills. My grandfather was incredibly patient with us. I’d sometimes ruin one of the parts I was working on but he’d just shrug his shoulders and say he always made extras just in case. He’d cover our mistakes before we even made them. He always treated us with a large measure of grace.

It is not unusual for children to form their first images of God based on one or more influential adults in their lives. Through my grandfather I learned that God is loving, patient, funny, kind, forgiving and strong. And, when I grow up I want to be just like him! If one day you see something in me that has the light of God about it, that’s my grandfather working alongside of me.

Pastor Dan, we know how much you and your family will miss your father. We know what it is like to say goodbye to someone we love and who has blessed us in so many ways. It is a good thing when we are young to have someone who teaches us how to work, think, act and especially how to love. The Apostle Paul talked about that love making it all the way to heaven.

Yours In Christ,
Ed Sladek