St. John (No, not that one.)

Saint Eustache / church in Paris HDR /FUJIFILM FINEPIX S100FS

Hebrews 12:1,2:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.

Yesterday was All Saints Day and, because I was frankly just too busy, I didn't have time for a post on one of my favorite saints.  St. John.

But, no, it's not the one in the Bible.

This is the one from Frankfort, Indiana.  At least he was in Frankfort, Indiana when I was there back in 1994.

His name is John Dicken, Rev. John Dicken.

John was a retired pastor, living in Frankfort when we moved there in 1994.  He attended the other, bigger, United Methodist Church.  But, on Tuesday mornings I met with him and a bunch of other retirees at a Bible Study at Jim Dandy restaurant.  John was a cartoonist and I had heard tales of his sermon notes with cartoons and doodles scribbled all over them.  It was how he told his stories.  And, all though that study, each Tuesday, John would draw on the back side of his placemat and would then share his drawing at the close of the study.  It was a sermon in cartoon form.

John waved at everybody in town from the car.

Once, I traveled with John out to a continuing education event at a monastery nearby.  He drove.  We talked.  He never went above 55 miles per hour.  At one point a car passed us, clearly going faster than the speed limit.  John honked his horn as the person passed by on the left.  He was nonchalant about it.  But then he looked at me and said, "Someone should tell him he's doing something wrong."  John was the one to do it...and to do it in a nice way.

One of the things I learned from John as I struggled with some issues about outreach to Hispanics is how to reach out to the least, the last, and the lost.  I was a young pastor way back then.  He showed me how to love the unlovable in the world.  That's no small feat.

It was John we called to fill in on the Sunday morning my son, Samuel, was born 16 years ago.  He was more than happy to do so.  He shared my joy.

I remember John's funeral as if it were yesterday.  It was at Frankfort's St. Matthew UMC.  There were tons of clergy there.  Lots of male voices.  I, along with many others, shared some words.  But the thing I remember most was singing, "It is Well With My Soul."  Oh, those clergy could sing!  It was a brilliant, wonderful rendition.  And I'll never forget, through my own tears, how it was well with my soul that day just as it was well with John's.

Phyllis, John's wife, offered me John's preaching robe after his death.  It would have been an honor to receive it and wear it in the pulpit.  However, John was about 100 pounds less than I was.  The robe didn't come close to fitting.  Instead, I was given one of his bibles.  It's one I still have to this day.

When I think about the saint in my life, I think about Vi Altic, and Byron Kaiser, and Dick Day, and Betty Underwood, and James McIntyre, and my wife (yes, honey, even you!).

But, today, I wanted to share about a saint who taught me a lot about being a pastor.

Perhaps, in his example, there's someone I can teach as well.

Thank you John.