I just found out that the last man to serve as my pastor before my ordination was called to glory this week. Once you are ordained, there are men who serve as “Father Confessor”, men who serve as advisors, counselors or in other pastoral capacities. But the truth is, it isn’t the same.
A pastor is distinct from you. And once you are ordained, they are colleagues. Even a bishop is simply “first among equals”. We are servants together. Pr. Schrader served as my pastor when I was not. He was my pastor when I was not invited to call these men by their first name. And so, though I have not been a member of the congregation for well over a decade, though he retired some time ago, though we have not spoken since my ordination, I still considered him, in some way, my pastor.
I was a young man, filled with arrogance, hubris, and lacking in social graces. He was humble, loving, and always gracious. His sermons were excellent, His bible classes were confoundedly intelligent, and yet simple enough for anyone to understand. He had a servant heart.
I remember one teacher saying to me when I was in high school, and was attempting to emulate the style of a great public speaker : If you want to be a good pastor, you should probably try and be less like this man, and more like Pastor Schrader. Look at the love he shows to all those around him. I think it was some of the best advice I have ever received. The man modeled humility, love for his fellow man, and a Christ-like servant heart.
The synod is poorer for his passing. The church on earth has lost a valiant soldier. Friends I have known for years have lost a father. In comparison, my loss is minuscule. I am sad for and with them. May God grant them the comfort that comes only from Christ and his resurrection, as they mourn the death of their beloved father.
He has now become for us an example of faith and life that we should follow. Saint David Schrader. Requiescat in Pace.