From the Editor

Will we have mattered to anyone?

Michael L. Sherer

Michael L. Sherer

During the week when I was writing this, the local press told the story of a 14-year-old foster child. This young boy stole a car, raced through the east side of St. Paul, Minnesota, at a dangerously high rate of speed (just ahead of pursuing police officers), jumped a curb, and plunged into Lake Phalen, where he drowned.

Will we remember this unfortunate soul a year from now? Will his tragically short life have mattered to anybody?
We can ask the same question about famous people who depart the scene. In the month previous to my writing this, we saw stage actor Hume Cronyn, film comedians Buddy Hackett and Buddy Ebsen, and stage/film luminary Katharine Hepburn all go to the graveyard. Will any of them have mattered much to us?

Closer to home, we’re reminded of good friends who finished their pilgrimages without ever making it into the headlines. While we profiled his life in a previous issue, our exemplar, Tom Wersell (who not long before his death received a Metro Lutheran Gold Pen) better helps us to answer in the affirmative the question, “Will this life have mattered to anyone besides himself?”

Tom’s daughter, Andrea, reminded me in a very touching letter which arrived in our office in late June, that her father did something that will continue to impact Lutheran pilgrims for a long time to come.

In his role as regional director of the Board of American Missions for the Augustana Lutheran Church (the Swedish component of the present ELCA), Wersell “planted” nine new congregations in the Twin Cities area, plus more in outstate Minnesota. To quote Andrea, “Tom sought locations, purchased the land, began Sunday services — often in school basements, nominated and called and mentored pastors through [to] groundbreaking, building and programs. His entire ministry was rooted in his belief and faith in Jesus Christ by grace alone.”

Many readers will have worshiped in one or more of the metro area churches Tom helped to launch. Others will have driven by one or more. (My daily bus commute takes me past one of them.) Here’s Andrea’s list (congregations in the metro area only): All Saints, Minnetonka; St. Stephen, Bloomington; Normandale, Edina; Refor-mation, St. Louis Park; St. Andrew, Eden Prairie; Advent, Roseville; St. Michael, Roseville; Nativity, St. Anthony Village; and House of Prayer, Richfield.

Today these congregations are ministering to many thousands of Lutheran Christians. Each community has its own collection of stories to share, about lives that matter and that have been changed.

There are days when I wonder whether our efforts at Metro Lutheran will have mattered to anybody in the larger scheme of things. I think about it a lot just now, as we wonder what to do about a deteriorated economy, ad sales dramatically fewer than a year ago, and, as a developing pattern in our office, “too much month at the end of the money.” (A direct appeal relating to this challenge appears on page 3 of the August print edition.)

Every life matters to God. “God don’t make junk,” the street philosopher rather inelegantly said. That’s the primary truth. The secondary issue, however, is, “How will what we were and did matter to anyone?” It seems clear that what matters is that we steer someone in the right direction (Godward).

Would that someone had done as much for that young man who died in Lake Phalen. Thankfully, Tom Wersell, and those who minister in the churches he helped to plant, got it right. Frequently, kind letters and phone calls tell us that the Metro Lutheran staff is making a positive difference in the lives of our readers.

That’s gratifying.

You may never know for whom you’re making a difference. But God knows. And that’s what matters.