Friday, January 12, 2007

Friend and Colleague of the Gospel

I was away this week in Oregon to attend the funeral of Kurt Rizer, Lutheran pastor, my friend, classmate and colleague of Jesus' good news.

Kurt's was a sudden death. Kurt prepared for a sabbatical, which included a visit to the Holy Land, a visit he never took because doctors diagnosed an aneurysm. Kurt elected to treat it and made progress in that treatment. After a surgery in the first week of the new year, Kurt died of bleeding into his brain.

I always admired Kurt's passion for mission. His welcome to Shepherd of the Valley Lutheran Church in Beaverton, Oregon, struck that note immediately.
We are messengers of God's love. By embracing the faith God has given us, we respond with worship, learning, action on behalf of others, and round it out with laughter.
Although his life was short it was full, and mission in his personal vocation as spouse and father, son, brother, uncle and friend and his ecclesial vocation as Lutheran pastor guaranteed his full life.

Kurt inspired me when we studied together at The Divinity School, Yale University. I realize today that his inspiration then was but a preview.

Although it is very difficult to let him rest in God--not to mention believe he's no longer with us as he once was--many, many people have fuller, richer lives because of Kurt. He will continue to inspire and motivate many of us to give ourselves more freely to the mission of Jesus, who Kurt dearly loved.

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