Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Birthday greetings to Glenn

Every seminarian has a favorite professor, one in whom he finds much inspiration, wisdom and admiration.

While a student at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, that professor for me was Rev. Dr. Glenn Nielsen.

It was in my first homiletics class that I felt a connection with Dr. Nielsen.  An important part of pastoral ministry is the preaching task.  We all wanted to learn how to write a good sermon.  We had lots of questions.  Dr. Nielsen was more than up to the task of answering them.

Actually, he provided more than answers to our questions.  He often gave us examples.

A question would be asked about how to approach a particular text and Dr. Nielsen would think for a moment and then compose a mini-sermon on the spot, showing one way to proclaim a particular truth in God's Word.  I sat there, slack-jawed, amazed, that anyone could formulate a response, in mere moments, like that.

I soon began to scour all the issues of the Concordia Journal to read Dr. Nielsen's sermons.  I was continually amazed to see all the various ways he approached different texts.  All his sermons had a freshness that's I'd not seen before.  Law and Gospel were correctly divided.  And the Gospel he preached would just make your heart soar with gratitude and joy for the forgiveness and salvation given through faith in Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection.

Even today, I'm still trying to write a "Nielsen sermon."  Maybe one day I'll get there.

My ordination day was very special for many reasons.  Lots of family, traveling from different parts of the country came.  The pastors at our home church in Edwardsville, Illinois participated in the service.  My best friends from seminary were there with their wives.  Members from my vicarage congregation in Olivette, Missouri drove down for the service.  It was a day filled with many blessings.

Dr. Nielsen gave the sermon.  A "Nielsen sermon" just for me.  His advice was simple - "Preach the Word!"

Thanks, Glenn, for that encouragement.  I love preaching the Word of God.  I learned to love doing this from your fine instruction and example.  Hope you're birthday was a blessing.