I went out for Dinner last night…..

It was at the Frederick Meijer Gardens – the food, the atmosphere, everything was wonderful.

It was a gathering of people, many of whom knew my Dad. Many of whom worked with my Dad these last 15 years during his “retirement career.” Many of whom knew my dad either because they had him in class, they were in class with him or their friends and family told them what they learned from my Dad.

This was the first year in the last 16 years that my Dad wasn’t there.

In person, that is. But it was so obvious that his impact lived on through his words.

Through the books that he’s written.

Through the classes he has taught.

Through the valleys he has walked – both his own valleys (our valleys) and also the valleys he has helped students and others walk through…

So, while he wasn’t there, I saw him in many ways and in many faces.

But that wasn’t the only high point. The other high point was the stories from three of the seminarians – in their own word. One of them was talking about the work she was doing on her internship. There was a lady who kept coming back to her bible study with a “troubled” past. She spent significant time with her and eventually Susie got to the point where she believed and then she went around and told the whole town – including everyone in the bible study, everyone at the group home, “This stuff is real!” “You got to read this bible thing. This stuff is real!”

As I was listening to her story, and unfortunately “Susie’s” time on this earth didn’t end well, I thought, that’s what makes a seminary and the training of future pastors so important.

This stuff is real.

Jesus is real.

But evil is also real.

And so is sickness and heartache and pain.

And Trauma and violence and racism and cynicism and

And we could add more and more and, but we won’t.

Because even though this stuff is real,

I went to a dinner last night with a whole bunch of people who are fighting to make sure that we all know that “this Jesus stuff” is real.

And it wasn’t just the food that was good.

TJV

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