Anderson, Arthur W.

Arthur Anderson, veteran Pastor, is a regular contributor. He lives in Aurora, Ohio.

Earthen Vessels and Cracked Pots (Spring 1987)

Sermon by Art Anderson

Perspective on Winning (Fall 1988)

Playing golf the way I play it is exasperating. When Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," he didn't mean golf. On the fairway, my whole being pleads for consistency — foolish or otherwise. After having another game spoiled by figure 8s, I got so sick of being a loser, I resolved to do whatever it took to win. If I couldn't win against myself, I deserved the pits.

Christmas Musings (Winter 1988)

Can you imagine anyone not liking Christmas? Yet, people close to me hate it! I don't mean they detest the birth of the Christ or anything like that. They just abhor the mania associated with it.

Musings on Florida Birds (Spring 1989)

Birds here in Florida amuse me. But, sometimes they scare me. I discovered that carrying hotdogs on the beach is something you should not do. Normally, birds do not intimidate me, but the other day when a squadron of seagulls dive-bombed my cardboard tray as though it were the top of an aircraft carrier, I felt as though I were in an Alfred Hitchcock movie.

Whatever Happened to People? (Summer 1989)

It is raining all day, My thoughts are long and pensive. Putting a pen to an overcast mood only makes other people depressed. I don't want to do that. But, like John Updike who wrote a poem on all the things he saw when his fever was over 100 degrees, I see things on a soupy day that I miss in the sunlight!

Ecumenical Experiences (Fall 1989)

This summer I spoke in several non-Covenant, mainstream churches, filling in for some brethren. As I came into one of the churches, a gregarious gentleman said: "You should come here when our pastor is back, he is a top-notch preacher." He didn't know I was on deck that morning but I remembered what he said.

Doubts, Handel, and Haydn (Winter 1989)

Sitting in the balcony of a large church, I seemed to be in heaven listening to a sublime rendition of Handel's Messiah. All of a sudden the craziest thought struck me: "What if this whole thing is a joke and no one is really out there?"

Lighten Up (Spring 1990)

Rabbi Edwin Friedman said two things at the recent Covenant Midwinter Conference that struck home. He blew all the helpful advice on dealing with clergy burnout when he said that he did not believe in clergy support groups. Though admitting that the ministry is a very lonely profession, he said that real support comes from God alone and that solitude is the best way to get in touch with God.

Passing It On (Summer 1990)

A plaque bearing the hymn title showed up among the wedding gifts for a couple about to be married. It was a very informal wedding and the beaming bride, on the spur of the moment, asked the groom to sing it. So square in the middle of the ceremony, the obliging groom sang: “Abide with me, fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens, Lord, with me abide; When other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, O abide with me.”

Christ Lives Outside the Church, Too (Fall 1990)

Trying to get sleepy the other night, I turned on the T.V. and happened in on a religious program — a years-ago interview with Francis Schaeffer. Among other things, Mr. Schaeffer said that we confine spirituality strictly to church and religion — to a low percentage of our living.

Sheep, Shepherds, and Judgment (Winter 1990)

It is Judgment Sunday. The Associate Pastor is preaching and he takes his text from Ezekiel 34. He is talking about sheep and shepherds. He is a very perceptive as he retrieves these ancient images for us in our high-tech milieu. Dumb sheep, he allowed, were not palatable models for us.

God's Folly (Spring 1991)

The French, we are told, celebrate Easter with an upending phrase, "L'amour de Dieu est folie!" — God's love is God's folly. If sung with a lilt, here is a line that could rescue us from the grave of dead assumptions.

Anguish and Providence (Summer 1991)

Imagine 37,000 lives swept away in a typhoon. The catastrophe in Bangladesh strains one’s belief in God’s providential care as well as in the dignity of human life.

Honesty and Liberation (Winter 1991)

Sometimes reading the Bible for devotions drives one up a wall instead of up to heaven! For a stretch, on recent mornings, I turned to a sequential reading· of the Psalms for solace, reassurance, and encouragement.

Speaking from Experience (Spring 1992)

Whatever happened to the mechanic you know—the guy who had his shop a few doors down from the bakery? He may have charged only a fraction less than the big shops, but you had the feeling that he gave personal attention to your car.

Word Play (Fall 1992)

Words can carry freight so precariously placed that if the load shifted, it would be tragic. Once, when my son and I were out on the green kingdom playing a game I occasionally indulge in, we pulled up behind a stalled foursome waiting to tee off. I asked them how they were doing. One expressed delight in his game thus far. Another blurted out in considerable ecstasy, “I’m as happy as hell.” From his words one might gather that he was frustrated, but such was not the case. He, too, was pleased.

Dad's Day, 1997 (Summer 1997)

In recent years I have experienced a new love affair with this Book. I take its words — its texts — more seriously. I ask more probing questions and refuse to take meanings off the top.

On the Prowl (Fall 1998)

Hugh Downs was being interviewed one night. Since he is my age I consider him a secret brother. The talk was about aging. That got my attention.

Play Ball (Winter 1999)

My first thought was: Why don’t I rent a place in Vero Beach next year and come to all the games. I could see good major league baseball at one-third the price with no parking worries. Then I reflected on the time some 28 years ago when my son, Kirk, and I stole out onto the field to hit and field baseballs until a caretaker spotted us and invited us to leave.

Playing Out the Parable (Summer 1999)

Oh, what disillusionment befalls us when we think we know all about what is expected of us! For example, as a minister, I would assume that if I was asked to fulfill my calling on any given Sunday, I would preach and do such other things a normal service requires.

Notable Teachers (Fall 1999)

I wish I could remember the name of my first-grade teacher. She made me fall in love with words. Before 10, I literally walked a mile to take out books from the library. Oh, the magic of the cover, the mystique of the print, and the aura of the book itself. She waved her wand over a value. She’s gone now. I wish I could thank her.

Surprised at Jekyll Island (Spring 2000)

Have you ever had an author step off the page and confront you in a real situation? What brings serendipity to mind is an illustration I used in two wedding homilies when two of our children were married.

Pastoral Popularity (Summer 2000)

Early in my ministry, I attended Covenant ministerial meetings at Park Avenue Covenant church in Minneapolis. I liked them because they gave novices like me the chance to be around the bellwethers of the Covenant as well as to compare notes with my peers.

Credit Where Credit Isn’t Due (Winter 2000)

Why is it that we seem to get the most credit for what we least like to do? For example: Church visitation.

The Energy of Grace (Spring 2001)

Ever hear of Moe Norman? He’s a Canadian golfer who at age 71 is still considered (even by Snead and company) as the world’s greatest "ball striker." A recent article in a magazine carried a story on his growing up with an autistic problem. Belittling golf as a "sissy" game, his father forbade him to play the game, breaking up his clubs to make his point. Young Moe got around this by hiding another set under the old front porch.

A Word from Professor Nyvall (Summer 2001)

A glowing memory from my North Park past is the story of my first encounter with a living legend, Dr. Navid Nyvall, former president of our college.

Is God Interested in Real Estate? (Winter 2001-2002)

Is God interested in real estate? From the perspective of the theology I hold, I believe He is. God is the creator, the center of whole universe. When He drew back to look at what was done, He said it was pretty good. I’m grubby enough to appreciate what that means. In a class I had with him, the late Dr. Joseph Sittler, burst out with the amazing statement: "Every chink of human existence is Christocentric." I believe that!

Should I Change My Name? (Summer 2002)

How would you like to have the name “Arthur Andersen?” Mine is close enough to experience some ripples. Being a pure Swede with a name that is spelled with an “o” instead of “e” should exempt me, don’t you think?

Owl Watch (Winter 2002-2003)

Going on an owl watch Saturday night, with a sermon coming up next morning, was not my idea of relaxation. But Bernice's disappointed look made me cheer up enough to say, "Let's go!" I couldn't think of any good sermon illustrations from owls, only a few puns that church people are too polite to groan at.

Misssouri Memories (Summer 2003)

One overcast Missouri Monday, while Bernice and I were visiting our daughter, Ingrid, and her husband, Mike, in Lee’s Summit, located on the big shoulders of Kansas City, we took a drive in the country. We scouted out three old towns—Pleasant Hill, Harrisonville, and Peculiar. Rural towns have the magic of a story in them!

I-It, I-Cyber, I-Thou (Winter 2003-2004)

Funny. I’ve never heard of anyone really into computers complain about “Passwords.” Most must think righteously and thus go right on through. Even after my password has been initially accepted, I need a cadre of English teachers, lawyers, and technical experts to have a slim chance for it to allow me to proceed.

The Oneness of All People (Winter 2004-2005)

One regret that still bristles me is that I didn’t speak or write more forcefully about the oneness of all people—sinners, saints, butchers, ham operators, sailors, sea captains, farmers, drillers, receptionists, CEOs, doctors, plainclothesmen, peacemakers, al-Qaeda, preachers, tax cheats, contractors, lawyers, baseball players, rabbis, poets, criminals, et. al. You guessed it. The whole bunch!

Conversation at the United Nations (Winter 2005)

While serving Bethesda Covenant Church in New York City for two years, my eyes were opened. Our congregation met at the Church Center for the UN on Sunday mornings for worship.

“The Word of God” (Summer 2006)

Ever since first grade, reading has been a big love in my life. Part of my passion comes from reading authors whose outlook I don’t really share. Bishop Spong, a liberal Episcopal churchman, has written articulate and provocative books that make one ponder one’s easy assumptions about many theological matters, including the Bible. He rightly points out that there are difficult passages scattered here and there in the Hebrew Scriptures and in the New Testament.

Old Friends, Old Wit (Christmas 2006)

One Friday evening during my teens, our little country church in Mahtowa, Minnesota had an auction. No cows or heavy beef cattle, just “stuff” one could take home in the car. The spirit this night was hilarious—just 11 degrees short of bedlam. What drew this Friday night crowd was not the merchandise, but the auctioneer himself. I will never forget Charles Lindberg—“Old Man Lindberg,” as he was called. A local 95-year-old Mahtowa favorite, yes, and member of this church. When he brought up an item, and described its worth, it was jolly time. He told old stories, new and old country jokes. Laughter and hooting broke out all over, and most of the items brought up had to be challenged with good-natured rebuttal. Wise cracks in the sanctuary were really outbreaks of love and affection for this venerable old gent. Not many comedians on present day television could have matched his soil-grown wit!

My Mariah (Spring 2007)

Surprise! Sunday morning the phone rang. It was for me. A sweet, romantic voice cried out, “AHT!” (Art). It softened me. Was this some long-forgotten sweetheart? Nope! It was the voice of my lovely three-year-old great-granddaughter, “Mariah.”

So What’s the Solution? (Christmas 2007)

There are times in my life when things go wrong and I wonder why. All the plausible sources I turn to are simply band aids that nurse my anger, self-pity, and frustration. I’m still that crotchety, old guy. I seldom read self-help books anymore. The glamorous promises always seem to let me down. Recently, my circle of friends hit upon a small volume by Eckhart Tolle entitled The Power of the Now.

Men of the Church (Spring 2008)

My new friend, Gus, invited me to a men’s gathering in the church lounge at a time when 8 a.m. was colder and earlier than usual. About 18-20 men—three professors, a doctor, hard-nosed businessmen, some retired, others not, assembled in the church kitchen, had donuts and coffee, and then gathered together in the lounge.

The Power of Witness (Christmas 2008)

I have often wondered what makes a powerful witness to the faith. Is being very verbal about it the most telling?

The Incredible Gift of Friendship (Summer 2009)

In a church last served by our friends, David and Priscilla Norling, we are blessed with many friends. Among them is Richard Fox, a professor of Philosophy at Cleveland State University. He surprised four of us at church when he invited us to enroll for free in a Philosophy class at the University for the spring quarter. It was a class on Ethics (the basis of moral choices). Discussion on ethics and how to make true choices is very relevant to me now!

Learning at Its Best (Epiphany 2010)

I was a very nervous freshman at North Park in the fall of 1938. At the outset, the only thing I could do was smile and suffer. While I really didn’t grow up on a farm, I had enough of it to make me more retiring than I wished.