I have spent the last few days trying to think of a tribute for Pastor Elling and Selma. That’s just dumb on my part. What better tribute can they have than to stand before Jesus and be told the following…

Matthew 25:23 – “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Most of the things I could write about are just personal items between Pastor and me and wouldn’t mean much to anyone. But there are four items.

The first thing he ever said to me was “You’re new here.”
He got that right. My life and marriage was in tatters. Susan and I decided that we ought to attend a church to see if God had any thing for us. We would become new to the faith.

The second thing he said to me was, “You’re a smoker.”
It wasn’t a criticism. I’d like to think there was a deeper meaning to it but I doubt it. He might have just been making small-talk while he was praying to God, “Why can’t You introduce me to somebody with an easier name I can pronounce?”

Years ago after the Christmas tsunami, Aleksandrs donated all his Christmas money, $50, to a girl at school collecting for aid and relief. I jumped his case about it and ended in an argument with him. I told Pastor about it and how I thought Aleksandrs was wrong to give all he had. He responded, “He did the right thing.”

Last Saturday, November 12, after Saturday service, Susan and I stopped to talk with Pastor and Selma to say hi and see how they were. We mostly talked health and food. I was surprised when they said they frequently go to Puccini’s for pizza after service. I never thought them to be pizza people. The last thing I ever said to them was “We’ll see you soon.”

Johnathan is the first name of the officer who was in the accident with the Ellings. He was responding to a shoplifting call but wasn’t running his siren or lights. Protocol states that under that situation the officer is required to drive the speed limit. As of now nobody knows what happened except for Norman pulling out in front of Johnathan. Maybe there was a blind spot in the Elling’s car, maybe a foot slipped off the brake, or someone just made an honest mistake. As a result, the Ellings are with Jesus and Johnathan must live with what happened. It’s not uncommon to read where people feel deep guilt for having been in a situation where another has been injured or killed. It can be worse if the people injured or killed are religious leaders. The survivor can fall into despair believing that God would never forgive him being involved in the death of a pastor and his wife. As a Christian I know this isn’t true. There is no sin too large that God won’t forgive a penitent heart. I pray that Johnathan doesn’t feel guilt over what happened. I pray his police chaplain can help guide Johnathan through any issues. I pray the Church will pray for him.


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