Remembering Norman Ard
I MET NORMAN about 8½ years ago. Prior to that and since, he served on the session, our governing board. He provided wisdom and compassion on the board of the church’s preschool.
He faithfully and with dedication taught a Bible class along with Anthony Kaiser and Cheryl Jensen. His in-depth study each week brought knowledge to the class and adult students cherished sitting at his feet.
He and Mary have been faithful in worship for many years. Norman was one to offer me praise when merited or offer me correction when merited. I appreciated both. He was committed to Jesus Christ and dedicated to his church. He will surely be missed.
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NINE YEARS AGO OR SO, Norman was elected by Swift Church to be on the committee tasked with searching for a new pastor. It was in that context that we met. I was one of several who interviewed with the seven people on that search committee.
At this point, I don’t remember much about that initial meeting. But I do remember one question from Norman. I don’t remember the exact words, but certainly the essence. Norman looked at me and asked something like this:
“Are you willing to share with people, one on one, the gospel of salvation?”
I don’t know Norman’s reasoning behind that question. Had other ministers the committee interviewed said that Jesus is A way to salvation and not THE way? Did Norman want to make sure that a pastor at Swift had the conviction to share the story of Jesus and salvation with others? I don’t know, but it indicated to me that a pastor’s willingness to share faith and to tell others the saving grace of Jesus Christ was important to Norman.
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OVER THE YEARS, I’VE THOUGHT about that interview, that question, as I talk with people about God’s love for the world. Of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Of the new life offered to us through the gift of God’s Son, Jesus, whose birth we celebrate in a few weeks.
That’s why I selected this reading today: John 3:16. God’s love for the world is such that he gave his Son that we might have life. God loves the world. God deeply loves the world that God created. God deeply loves the world that he created and God longs for this creation to live.
The purpose of God’s having sent the Son was to save the world was to save the people from death. That was Jesus’ announcement. “I’m here because the God loved people of old and people now. God does love you. He sent me to tell you that. He sent me to show you. He sent me to gather you up into life with him forever.”
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GOD’S WAY OF LOVING THE WORLD was to send the Son to save it. Jesus is God’s expression of love and longing. This is “Good News.” If you haven’t already accepted the reality of God’s costly love for you, I pray that you will, with God’s help, turn from death to life.
If you already know and believe that “Good News,” look clearly at your lives, appreciate the gracious gift of God as a gift of love, and live in fearless confidence of that love.
Have we ever been so truly and consistently desired by another as we are by God? No, we haven’t. God loved the world in this way that he gave the Son so that we might live forever with God.
Thank you, Norman, for that question long ago and for your acceptance of and demonstration of that gracious gift of God’s love.
— Keith Cardwell