16 Sep

This weekend Our Savior Lutheran Church is celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Rev. David Fleming’s Ordination.  We are truly blessed to call him our Pastor.  While I was unable to attend the dinner and presentation last night this letter went in my stead.  This morning the joyous celebration culminates with the Divine Service and preaching by Pr. Fleming’s good friend, Dr. Paul Grime.


Dear Pastor,

Congratulations on the 25th Anniversary of your Ordination.  Please forgive my absence this evening.  As tempting as “an environment conducive to conversational fellowship” might be, it was my husband’s turn to enjoy this rare treat, since he affords me the same on a weekly basis as I rehearse the talented members of our congregation.  In my absence I send this letter.  I’ll try to be brief, but then again, I’m usually the one who makes us sing all ten stanzas of Salvation Unto Us Has Come.

As I reflected on this anniversary I immediately thought back to the 2nd annual Good Shepherd Institute at the seminary nearly eleven years ago.  True, it was at the 1st Annual Good Shepherd Institute that I met you, but it was the next year when I was first introduced as “David Fleming’s Kantor.”  That title hit me with equal amounts of responsibility and joy. The responsibility is tied to the word Kantor.  For in my vocation as a church musician I must deliver the Word through God’s gift of music.  It’s a charge that often falls on my blundering fingers, notoriously loud and flat voice, and sometimes poor sense of judgment.

Gladly, the title comes with a possessive, much like being Jerry’s wife, or best yet, God’s own child.  And, as in those cases, it is the possessor that is the source of joy and comfort.  I’m not just a Kantor, I’m David Fleming’s Kantor.  As your kantor I am under your theological, and even musical, care and guidance.

And so for the past eleven years I’ve received joy and comfort as you taught me to point to Jesus in every hymn, the correct usage of stanza and verse, and even the best tempo for Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven.  You’ve modeled joyful singing in a contagious manner that gave me the most robust congregation in the Missouri Synod to accompany. You’ve corrected without condescension, and forgiven a thousand wrong notes and an even larger number of wrong-doings.  You’ve patiently borne my impatience, humbly covered my arrogance, and worked around my stubbornness.   You’ve guarded me against hurtful words, and built me up with encouraging ones.

Above all, in your preaching and in your actions, you’ve given me Jesus.

And you’ve given Him to our family as well.  You prayed for “Robert” and I on our wedding day, designed platforms so Jerry’s now-sainted father could baptize the twins (Dr. Wright, did you put the emphasis on the second syllable of “bapTIZE” like Prs. Fleming and Krieger would want you to?), sang that Cecilia was breakin’ your heart just minutes after her birth, and selflessly share your beautiful family.

There is one other thing I remember from the trip to the 2nd Good Shepherd Institute that deserves mention this evening:  you minted a brand new portion of the liturgy.  And although you’ll have to ask Dr. Grime why it didn’t make it into the hymnal, it’s time I took my job as Kantor seriously and taught the liturgical response to the congregation.   This new salutation goes like this:  Pastor Fleming will say, “We’re all jerks,” and the congregation will respond in full voice, “But not you, Pastor.”  So Pastor, if you don’t mind, you should all give it a try.

P:  We’re all jerks.
C:  But not you, Pastor.

Congratulations on your years as Christ’s servant, may He continue to bless you, and us through you, for many years to come.

We love you deeply in Jesus,

2 Responses to “Possessive”

  1. Jan at 3:37 pm #

    I thought surely the response would be “and also are you.” 😉

  2. Rachel at 10:16 pm #


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