Out and About

by Phil Johnson

May 7, 2000. Paschal Vespers and Birthday Party in honor of the 75th Birthday of Glen V. Wiberg, Servant, Friend, and Brother of Jesus.

People came from the highways and byways to the lovely home of Matt and Kathy (Wiberg) Frank. The vesper service of renewal of baptism led by David Hawkinson and James Anderson was followed by a merry party. This verse was read:

Thanks to Glen
We Meet Again

Witness this man at seventy-five—
You’ll find him very much alive.
He’s what you call a vet’ran Pastor—
Never a sermon that’s disaster.

Through the years he’s led the song
Showing Christians they belong.
One and all enjoy his "Sightings."
And we seek his other writings.

Of you we speak, our dear friend Glen.
You give us stories of now and then.
And while age trackers watch the timer,
You just keep on getting primer.

You have pointed us toward wonder
And usually spare us pulpit thunder.
So we’re all glad to be your friend
And on this day BEST wishes send.
—— PJ

March 18, 2000. North Park University was the scene of a lively symposium and Mission Meeting. The afternoon symposium, attended by 90 people, featured David Goa of Edmonton, Alberta, and David Hawkinson of Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The first David led the participants through a study of the connections between pietism and Russian Orthodoxy. Goa noted that Johann Arndt was read by the Russian monk, Tikhon who was portrayed by Feodor Dostoyevski as Father Zossima in the novel The Brothers Karamazov. Apparently it is no accident that many Covenanters, myself included, feel a resonance with the Orthodox church, especially with respect to its emphasis on creation, redemption, and celebration. The Brothers K. was a central work of literature assigned to all students at North Park. A major difference between Covenant and Orthodox was expressed when David Goa remarked that he could just imagine what some Eastern monks would do with the sanctuary space in the Anderson Chapel. The remark called attention, without further comment, to the stark, unadorned whiteness of the Chapel. Memory of the colorful, icon-laden sanctuary at St. Mary’s Greek Orthodox Seminary in Brookline, Massachusetts came to my mind.

After convivial enjoyment of a long break which provided opportunity to do a little Pietisten business, David Hawkinson took the podium and led us in a study of Psalm 73. "For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked…" David, as he always does, drew the study group into active participation and a lively dialog with the text. By the time we ended, the concerns of the Psalm had become living concerns of our own. Not least was the matter of who we were—were we the Psalmist, envious of the prosperity of the wicked? Or were we the scheming prosperous ones? How did we, David asked, think of the source and reason for what we have? Were our resources and possessions things that we deserved because of our own hard work? Because of God’s favor? Because of exploitation of others? Luck? This is a fascinating matter to consider.

Dining in the Multi-Purpose Room, the old-gym to many of us with the balcony behind the basket where a few hook shots ended up, was the next event. Over a hundred people gathered to dine together. In addition to eating Swedish foods and visiting with one another, we listened to tributes to Zenos by Jane Swanson-Nystrom and Peter Heintzleman that expressed how we value the life and work of this fine person.

The day came to a close with the Mission Meeting. Anderson Chapel was filled. The North Park Covenant String Band set the tone playing hymns like "I Sing with Joy and Gladness." Later in the service we were introduced to the hymn written by Dennis Moon, Pastor of Pilgrim Covenant Church of Granby, Connecticut (text and music in the next column) commissioned by the Heritage Fund for the occasion. Denny took the theme for the song from an address by Zenos: "God’s Glory, Neighbor’s Good."

The stirring sermon by Pastor Glen Wiberg was followed by communion served with a liturgy written by John Weborg. It was a grand time. The length of the service helped substant-iate its claim to being a Mission Meeting—even if there was only one sermon. People departed with glad hearts.