BY BONNIE LOMEN
Pastor First Lutheran Church, Pine River
In John 10:11, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
In planning to write this article, I thought of many topics or lessons brought out in Scripture. But this week on Jan. 31, one of the shepherds of an earthly flock is laid to rest. This event is foremost in my thoughts.
A friend and colleague, Pastor Marlys Korman, went to be with the Lord following a stroke. She is an earthly shepherd gone to be with the Good Shepherd.
Though I have known her but a few years, she has been a shepherd to me also. Marlys took seriously the commandments to love the Lord and love others. In her life, as she continued to grow in Christ, she had a godly love for the things and people of God, and a healthy anger for all things that stood in the way of the Good News of Jesus Christ.
She recognized how complicated life is and how urgently we need a Savior.
As shepherds go, she began her official pastoral duties late in life. But time and experience can be good teachers in the hands of the Almighty. There is a wisdom that comes with age.
Marlys was not afraid to talk of her struggles in life. She could reflect on lessons learned as she left alcohol behind. Struggles and temptations met their match in Marlys’ faith and her love; especially her love for her family and friends, and the church she loved. Love does conquer all things.
Recently Mar came to our pastoral text study in Brainerd with the decision that she and Bill (her husband) had made in prayer. She loved her work, felt she had more to do for God’s kingdom, and she would put off total retirement to continue to shepherd her flock.
The life of her words continue. They are God’s own words alive through Mar’s experience. The Word remains alive and does its work in us. Faith Lutheran in Swanburg contained many people Mar loved. That meant she would be honest with them and love them as they were, with an ever present desire that they know their brokenness to sin and the forgiving grace of a loving God.
Many were the conversations we had about the increasing number of funerals and weddings where the name of God is not present. It was not anger that marked the conversations, but an extreme sadness for people who had settled for so little of life.
Her anger was reserved most often for the voices of division in the church, or those that had their identity in what they were against rather than what they were for.
“Too much time is taken from the preaching of the gospel and given to arguments over things that do not lead to life,” she would say.
She knew and experienced God’s deliverance and grace. Once you have tasted and seen the goodness of the Lord, you can’t go back!
Mar’s words will live on for her church home. They are not orphaned, and they have the living Word in their midst, even in her absence.
Her oxygen machine for the evening rest is replaced with healthy lungs to sing God’s praises. Her love of spouse, family and friends continues. Love cannot die.
This faithful earthly shepherd leaves our presence for now. She meets the Good Shepherd face-to-face. Ah, the stories they have to share.
Ah, the stories we have yet to live in Him!