ashley, catechesis, catechism, lutheran, pastor as hero, theology, thoma
I received this from one of the youth members in my congregation. Her name is Ashley.
Ashley came to me a few years ago and asked to interview me. I didn’t necessarily know what it was for until a few weeks later when I found the finished essay sitting on my desk with a beautiful little “thank-you” note beside it.
I came across the essay again recently as it popped up from beneath some papers tucked in the middle drawer of my desk, and after the most recent frustration (which drove me to write that Ardmore Traditional Cask review as I did), I asked Ashley if I could publish it here because it was a reinvigorating and timely discovery. It should be a reminder to all pastors that the Word of God is true when it declares: “Your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” You won’t always see the results of the effort, but then again, that’s not the power behind the service. If you require visible results, go into the church and mop the floor. That’s what I do when I need to see the beginning and end of something.
Well, anyway, behold Ashley’s essay on the topic of “Heroes”. I am honored. I am humbled. And I want to share my joy with you, my angelsportion friends. Thanks, Ashley. I’m sure your words will help to breathe life into more than just this wearied man.
And for the record, I absolutely do not think of myself as a hero, nor do I consider myself as wiry or thin.
If you asked the average person what a hero looks like, they think of a spandex suit, a cape, and superpowers. If you replace the spandex suit with a clerical collar, the cape with a Bible, and superpowers with the ability to speak or read foreign languages, you have my hero in a nutshell. My hero is Reverend Christopher Ian Thoma. Pastor Thoma is a thin, wiry man with an oval face. He has bright blue eyes set behind his glasses, mousey brown hair and a famous crooked smile that fits perfectly on his face. What you see is youth but, the man behind the face seems anything but.
When you walk into his office, three things dominate it: his desk covered with pictures of his loving family, the massive bookcases along the walls, and piles of papers everywhere. Just walking in, you can tell he is a fan of the written word; in fact some of his heroes include hymn writers and the prophet Isaiah. He has even written several books, he certainly is a busy a man!
The first time I met Pastor Thoma was when he was a Vicar. I was in sixth grade and he taught my catechism class. During that time, I learned that he has a witty sense of humor. When no one had the answer to a question, he would hum his own tune of “uncomfortable silence” until someone was brave enough to answer. Even if you got the question completely wrong he would say “you’re on the right track but let’s get someone to help you” and we would laugh, easing the tension.
Pastor Thoma is someone who always tries to encourage you, and sometimes during class he would tease us by saying “it hurts me to say this, it truly does.”
My definition of a hero is someone who is dedicated, has perseverance, is selfless, is honest, and is courageous enough to do the right thing; even when it is hard. Pastor Thoma is one of the most dedicated people I know, he is always there for support. When my uncle Richard was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he dropped everything to go to Sterling Heights, which is almost an hour and a half away. He never once complained, and I know he does it out of the goodness of his heart.
According to Pastor Thoma “a hero is someone who will on stay the faithful course even if hell itself fights against him.” I agree whole heartedly, and in my opinion he fits that definition. I have also never seen a person so willing to keep going, to persevere.
During Holy Week, starting on Palm Sunday and ending on Easter Sunday, he wrote a sermon every day; sometimes within hours of the actual worship service only to arrive home extremely late and return the next day around five thirty in the morning; by the grace of God. The poor man even had a cot in his office at one point, what dedication! During my interview with him, I asked him what qualities or abilities are important for doing well in the ministry, he replied “faithfulness, patience, and humility. All are qualities I pray for every day.” Pastor Thoma is my hero because he has just been there for me, in the last year I’ve lost two family members, and he was there for moral support. He has also guided me on my spiritual journey, and as a result made me a stronger person.
God works in mysterious ways, who would have thought a pastor could be a hero for acts that to others may seem insignificant, or would have gone unnoticed.
These things are very important to share with your readers. Uplifting! Faith-filled.
Debbie LoCascio said:
She hit the nail on the head. Great job, Ashley! And it’s nice that you, Pastor Thoma, can re-read this essay and be uplifted and encouraged by her thoughts about you. God is good! 🙂
Thanks, Debbie. And yes, it is kept nearby.
Ashley your words and faithfullness is such an inspiration