Five-year-olds are easily impressed by novel things. Kindergarten Sunday school was my first big impression of Jesus and his guiding love. On a child’s 5th birthday in the early 1950s, our Lutheran kindergarten Sunday school would bring out a tabletop lighthouse bank, where the celebrant would insert one penny into the little lighthouse for each birthday year. The five pennies I put in made the little lighthouse light shine brightly as the class sang. The message was clear to all. Just as the lighthouse light shines brightly for ships in the night, Jesus is our shining light, guiding and loving us every day. Such fun for this five-year-old who would never forget the little shining light, the simple act of giving pennies, and coming to know the love of Jesus!
Some 70 years later, that little lighthouse memory still sticks with me. It was an effective object lesson that grew and matured over the years into the realization of God’s continuing love and my response to that love. So many blessings are seen in hindsight, but was my response there? Did I show gratitude and thankfulness in meaningful ways? Maybe not fully at first, but as I matured as a Christian man, my response to his love matured as well.
Looking back into my childhood, I see my father providing well for our family and yet able to give faithfully every Sunday to our church. He was thankful for his family and his work and was a faithful giver to the work of the church. His steady response in love was a lifetime example for me.
With another look back, I see the blessings of my education, my family, my grand-kiddos, and always the blessings of God’s Word. I see many loving pastors in years past, so dedicated, hardworking, and absolutely fixated on preaching and teaching the truth in God’s word. How could I not respond to all of this but in generous ways? The “how” was accomplished over the years by financial support, serving as an elder, serving in other church offices, and providing Christian leadership in my church roles. The fruit of this work was my joy. It was all a product of God’s love; I took action in response.
In early August 2010, I made my first visit to our seminary in Mequon, Wisconsin. We were led on a tour of the campus by an individual who explained the strenuous academic year of our seminarians. He noted the costs of tuition and that many students work at various part-time jobs to help pay their way. That day the campus was almost vacant of people, with just a few working. We looked into the seminary chapel where daily worship services were held. The lights were off, but sunlight flowed through the windows, brightly shining on the chapel. It was a reminder to me of that bright shining light of the little lighthouse so many years ago, now coming full circle in my life. It was a joyous realization that prompted the question, “Could I generously help here?” With what was seen and heard there that day, I knew that I could, with God’s help, be a financial contributor to the student body. With prayer and reflection on all my blessings, I made my first annual seminary gift in 2010 towards the financial needs of the students. I have been blessed to be able to give every academic year since then. It’s all about Jesus—his love and our loving response to him.
This article was written by an anonymous seminary supporter from the South Atlantic District.