“Yesterday’s Memories Tomorrow’s Dreams” by Carmen Tom – Wilber Gets Religious

Wilber Gets Religious

Old Wilber was getting up there in age; he was over eighty now. He’s been thinking a lot about his past. How things were when he was a boy. How he, Alfred and Albert had it growing up on the farms. He’s been reading and studying the bible all these years and watching some of the good preachers on TV. Always listening to the good ones of the radio and missing the old time programs. One that he really misses is pastor Norheim, old time Lutheran. Sermon and song out of Pasadena California. He was on the radio for over fifty years. He left this old world in December of 99. Wilber loves Billy Graham on TV and radio. He realizes Billy will be going home in not to many years.

Old Wilber, Alfred, Albert and most of their old friends grew up in the old Norway Lutheran church. They had such good sermons and always had such good old time music. There was no drums, no dance hall music instruments, just guitars and fiddles.

Pastor Larson's church.  That's my Lincoln out in front, summer of 1992.So Wilber has been thinking about going back to church. The last time he went the sermons were watered down, the preacher talked for about twenty minutes they sang songs from the book no one seemed to like. It didn’t sound like anyone was singing. The pastor had on big colorful robes; Wilber could not handle all of that for to long. Now days some of the old time churches had been changing to fast for him. He tried one in the big city but there were to many instruments on stage and it felt like he was in a nightclub. Preacher said a few words and clapped his hands. All of a sudden the people stood up and began to clap. They were shouting all kinds of words, after about and hour Wilber stood up and walked out of the building. As he was walking out a well-dressed man asked him if something was wrong. Yes replied Wilber I thought I was going to church but never did I think I was going to some kind of night club. The man just looked at old Wilber and said remember Jesus loves you. Old Wilber turned and said maybe you should start reading your bible and believe what it says.

Old Wilber did love old pastor Larson, but just could not go along with all of the changes the church was going through. Pastor Larson’s father was the pastor before him. They had all come over from Norway in the 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Wilber had a real good friend a Baptist preacher over in the next county; the church had to close there just wasn’t enough people around to attend. When the kids grew up most would leave for the big cities. Good jobs with good wages, lots to do, no one could blame them we all like to have a good life. When I left South Dakota back in 1943 it was the best thing I ever did. Donna and I just love the northwest. The weather, things to do and the jobs are super. We just wouldn’t live anywhere else.

When the Baptist church closed old Wilber was really upset, he loved the music in the Baptist church so he took all the song books home and put them in a shed. Old pastor Larson had to retire when he hit sixty-five, he wanted to keep preaching but the church said no. He did nothing for about a year but he became really board even with all of his hobbies.

The old Lutheran church was going down hill fast and what people were left attending were leaving even faster. The church needed a lot of repair; it looked like it hadn’t been painted in forty years or more. The grave yard out back looked like a weed field. It wasn’t long before the church put the building and the ten acres of land up for sale. When the church wouldn’t sell old Wilber told them he would buy it. He made an offer and the church told him they wanted cash. Wilber told them that at his age he didn’t need payments.

Wilber got his friends together and told them his plan. They all went to work remodeling the church. They painted a nice clean white and they even cleaned up the cemetery, it looked like a park. After a few months he went over to see pastor Larson. He told him he wanted to take him for a ride. He had his old V8 Ford with the fuel cell in it, only pastor Larson didn’t know about it. When old Wilber pushed the pedal the car shot out like a rocket. Mr. Larson asked Wilber why he was in such a hurry and the car went so fast? Old Wilber just looked over and told him he was just having some fun, everyone needs a little fun now and then. He slowed down and turned on to the road to the old church. He pulled up in front of the church; pastor Larson asked who had fixed up the church. Wilber took the pastor into the beautiful church. It looked like a new building. The pastor noticed the pulpit was in the center, he told Wilber he hadn’t seen that in fifty years or more. He asked Wilber what was going on, fallow me Wilber said I’ll show you the grounds. Larson just couldn’t believe what he was seeing, the cemetery looked like a park. Pastor Larson asked who did all this work? Wilber told him the story how he had bought the church at the auction. He told Larson he wanted to do something real nice before he was called home. He told Larson he had lived a hard life, he had worked hard since childhood. They went back into the church to looked around, pastor Larson picked up the songbooks and said Wilber these are like the ones we had sixty years ago. Wilber told him the story of how he got them. Larson asked him what he was going to do with the church now that it was finished. Wilber told him he was going to offer Larson to be the pastor in it if he wanted to. Larson explained that the church would not let him preach any longer. Wilber said no problem I got us signed into the independent Lutheran group. We are completely free of any rules we don’t like. He told Larson to just accept and come back to preach. You are in very good health and you still want to preach. Wilber told him I’ll be head deacon for now. I’ll form a board of deacons and give you a good salary. We’ll take care of everything, you just preach and teach God’s word.

Pastor Larson said where is the money going to come from until we get the church built back up again? Wilber told him he would donate money to pay his salary and all the church bills. Larson agreed to be the pastor and Wilber told him he would arrange everything for a big open house. He got all of his friends together and told them his plan.

Wilber put an announcement in the big city and all the local papers. He also put one on the radio and some on the TV. He wrote all the ads and paid for them to be published. He had a lot of money from that big land sale in eastern Washington. He gave lots of it away though many people thought he was a tight wade. They judged him by the way he dressed and the old cars and motorcycles that he drove. If they only knew.

The big day came to reopen the church. Wilber, Alfred, Albert and all their friends brought their musical instruments to play. Wilber had arranged for the local women to put on a picnic dinner after the first sermon. It wasn’t long before the cars started to fill the parking lot. The church was filled in no time at all. Wilber had set up a load speaker in the yard just in case to many showed, he wanted them to be able to hear the sermon just the same. All the people loved pastor Larsons sermon; he gave such a good old time sermon. Then Wilber and his men play Rock of Ages and all of the people agreed that they needed music like that in their churches. Everyone just loved Independent Lutheran, it didn’t take long before people came from far away just to hear the Sunday service and some even came for the Wednesday night bible study. Wilber did a wonderful job as a deacon, building up the number of members that the church had. In no time at all the church was full every Sunday. Pastor Larson just loved preaching in the church; it made him feel like a young man again. God was really using the older retired pastor in a good way. Wilber kept talking to Larson about the bible. He changed Larsons mind on many subjects. He no longer believed the many things he was taught in school. Wilber asked him how in the world he could get three days and three nights from Friday to Sunday. They changed Good Friday to Thursday and pastor Larson began teaching only what the Bible said.

Wilber and all his friends were beginning to show their age. He was in his eighties and could no longer drink like he used too. That was OK with him he had plenty of other things to keep him busy. Besides he had Jesus in his heart. He was a really good witness he got so many of his old buddies to repent and get back into church.

Wilber, Alfred and Albert had made a big change and Independent Lutheran had a lot to do with it. They would never be the same again. PALMS C-90-V- 10 The days of our years are three score years and ten and if by reason of strength they be four score years; yet in their strength, labor and sorrow; it is soon cut off an we fly away.

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