There were some real highlights to the year. I celebrated my 30th year in the pastoral ministry. The Board of Elders of St. Paul's came up with a way to celebrate this milestone. They had a weekend in August where they had a reception after each service. It was very thoughtful of them to do this. They also gave me several gifts that were pretty amazing. I received a special 500th anniversary edition of the ESV Concordia Self Study Bible.
They also had Ruth Schmitt paint Wrigley Field in honor of the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series in 2016. I would have loved a repeat of this feat but it wasn't meant to be. They did make it into the National League Championship series, which was quite awesome in 2017. I appreciated the folks that came out an voiced their support as I celebrated that milestone.
I was also elected Junior Pastoral Counselor for the National Lutheran Women's Missionary League. That happened in June. Penny and I too the Southwest Chief, a train, to Albuquerque, NM for the convention. It was pretty neat being on the ballot. It was quite overwhelming to actually be elected. In truth, I didn't think I had a chance to be elected to that position. The Lord obviously had other plans so I have spent the 2nd half of 2017 serving as Junior Pastoral Counselor. Who would have thought that a pastor in southern Illinois would be elected to serve in such a capacity. I give thanks to the Lord for making this possible. I continue to learn and grow as I serve the women of the Lutheran Church.
St. Paul's Lutheran Church, Troy, IL celebrated the 150th anniversary in September. That was pretty awesome. Not often that something like that happens. There were a lot of people that did a lot of things to make the celebration what it was. I give thanks to the Lord for the folks that put themselves forward and worked hard to make the celebration successful. What a glorious time it was to celebrate.
If I was to say what was the most frustrating and disappointing time in 2107 was when Penny's contract as a teacher at St. Paul's was not renewed. This really caused a lot of confusion and disappointment in the family. We didn't see it coming and it really destroyed the joy in the family. Yes, we have worked through it. Penny did get another job. She really misses being involved in the ministry at St. Paul's. I miss her being a part of the ministry here as well. For the majority of the 30 years I have been a pastor, we have been in ministry together. 2017 was the first year that I would say that has not taken place. It has been a hard adjustment. I am sure that I am not supposed to say these things but when you ramble, that is what happens.
I continue to work toward my Doctor of Ministry though 2017 was not a banner year for it. I took a class in January, did some work in February. My work on the MAP proposal took a back seat to Lent and Easter and then when June hit, and everything fell apart, I didn't have time or desire to pick it back up and work on it. I am hoping that 2018 will change my attitude and I will will work on it again. I am going to take the last class that I need before I do the MAP. Here's hoping that things work out and I am able to get this completed by summer 2019.
What else can I say? I rejoice that Penny and I are close to Rachael and Brandon. What a pleasure that is to have them so close by and to be able to spend time with them. Matthew got engaged to a lovely gal, Chelsey Seipel from Columbus, NE. 2018 will see a wedding on May 26 in Columbus, NE. We are looking forward to that day. How great it is that we are going to have another daughter in the family.
2017 was a challenge for the health. They finally found out that I have coronary artery spasms. This causes chest angina or pain. After 7 heart catheters, they finally found it. When they did the last cath, the arteries were spasmed down pretty bad and they figured that was probably the cause of the pain. Hurrah! Now they are trying to figure out the right medication to help me with the pain. I take nitro when needed, which is about 2-3 times a day. Boy will I be glad when all this is fixed.
What else can I say about 2017? The Lord has been good to me. He has blessed Penny and me in many and various ways, beyond what I could ever describe. Despite the setbacks and the frustrations of the situation this year, I rejoice to know that the Lord is still the Lord of the Church and the Lord of St. Paul's He still leads me in the ministry. The Holy Spirit still guides me work.
In the end I would say: All glory be to God for all that He has done for me in 2017. I ask Him to forgive me for my sins. And I pray that 2018 will be a better year for both Penny and myself.