Remembering the Saints in the Lord!
St. Arbucks is not the only place where we meet other saints in the Lord! St. Arbucks is a place, however, where we can remember, review, and recall the many saints in the Lord who have significantly touched our lives through our many years. Let me reflect on one of my special saints who crossed my path, and many others, in very special ways. His name is Pastor Vern Gundermann, who lived and died in the Lord!
Vern taught so many of us how to “live well” and also how to ‘die well”. During his life, he touched thousands of people with his pastoral style, his loving concern, his gracious ways of remembering peoples’ birthdays and anniversaries, and his willingness to always take “the extra mile” to support and encourage others. He was blessed with a strong faith-filled family who supported him all the way, which meant many hours and days where Vern was out and about , ministering to all those with whom he had contact.
After being diagnosed with ALS in the Fall of 2015, Vern continued his ministry to everyone who came near him, keeping in close contact with family and friends, in St. Louis, Minneapolis, and literally throughout the world. He began writing a daily “blog” which was sent out to his network of people. Each day, Vern would begin with the phrase, “Life is good. Life is changing. Life is good!” And that defined hat Vern’s life was all about. Even in the midst of joys and sorrows, struggles and victories, and now even ALS, Vern saw that life was good, in the Lord!
Flash back to the Fall of 1973. The Bimlers were just moving into a new ministry location in Minneapolis and settling into a new home in New Hope, Minnesota. Not knowing much about the area, including local churches to consider joining, Hazel and I went about getting our worldly goods moved into our compact new abode. Since I am not the most talented guy in terms of moving, fixing, or really doing much of anything helpful around the house, we were having difficulties getting furniture arranged and especially troubling was trying to get our washer and dryer hooked up properly. And then the Lord provided for us by somehow having the new local pastor, named Vern Gundermann , stop by for a “welcome” visit. Not only were we impressed with this energetic pastor, but I was especially attracted to the fact that he offered to install our washer and dryer….and he did it! Needless to say, we joined his parish, thinking of course that if other utilities need repair in the month ahead, we would know who to call!
Vern and Betty’s ministries to and with us were amazing and we continued the connection when both families found each other together again St. Louis a few years later.
During his challenges with ALS, Vern’s daily notes to his friends were spiritual, emotional, and educational, all in one. He would give us a daily update on 1} life – his day’s activities; 2} medical – his physical condition and the latest medical procedures; and 3} his devotional life, through biblical reflections, the 10 Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer.
Yes, life is good. Life is changing. Life is good! Vern wrote this e-newsletter daily, later with the help of family members, and it was always an upbeat, positive statement about the love and forgiveness that the Lord was providing him, in the midst of the dreadful disease which captured his body.
Lord, thanks for Vern and his ministry to so many of us. As we remember him, and other saints who you have brought into our lives, we give you thanks. May we also live out a life of knowing and sharing your love and forgiveness, and may we too be led to proclaim, “Life is good; Life is changing; Life is good”, in the Lord!
“For all the saints who from their labors rest……Alleluia, Alleluia!”
And that’s What’s Brewing at St. Arbucks this month!