Advent Day 11 – Wednesday, December 6

Our family was living in Ridgecrest, California, and I was working as a mechanical engineer for the United States Naval Weapons Center. We were very active in our church where my wife, Marlys, served as the choir director.

For years I wrestled with feeling the call to ministry but hadn’t acted on it. One day while painting our son’s bedroom, I received a phone call that my father had had a serious heart attack. I was considering making an emergency trip back to North Dakota when I felt a strange assurance that my dad would live and see me ordained as a pastor. Three years later, in the fall of 1981, I enrolled in Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa, by God’s grace.

I graduated with a Master of Divinity degree, three years later, but at that time there was a surplus of clergy. After two years, I received a call to East Freeborn Lutheran Church, a rural congregation northeast of Albert Lea, Minnesota. I was ordained as their pastor with my brother-in-law, Melvin Blobaum, as the ordinator. Both my parents and all my aunts and uncles traveled from North Dakota to be present at the ordination service.

The experience of having my dad there for my ordination was a source of encouragement for me throughout my 25 years of service as a pastor and minister of Word and Sacrament at both East Freeborn and St. Paul’s Lutheran in Lakota, Iowa. In retrospect, I know that I was led and sustained by the Holy Spirit throughout my entire time of service, but that did not mean that there were not some difficult times. I was able to fulfill my calling of service to God’s people in both congregations in a way that helped build them up.

I share these experiences in the hope that you will become more aware of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in your own life and by God’s grace follow where the Holy Spirit is leading you. I thank God for the presence, guidance, and leading of the Holy Spirit in the life of me and my late wife, Marlys. Without Marlys’s support I wouldn’t have gone into the ministry. I pray that the same Spirit would be abundantly present in the lives of our pastors, staff, and members here at Our Savior’s during this Advent season and throughout the coming years.

Marino S. Melsted