Three cheers for three friends on this auspicious day, the 19th of May.
Today, Mrs. Naomi (nee Rhein) Kavouras is twenty-two years old! Which means that I have now had the privilege of knowing this young lady for half her lifetime, since she was the tender age of eleven when I met her and the rest of her family. She and my firstborn, DoRena, have been the best of friends ever since. My wife and I are proud to count Naomi among our own friends, as well, and considering that her daughter, Saranita, is only a couple months older than our Gerhardt, I guess that puts us in the same generation, right? I mentioned that Ann & Andrew's wedding (a week ago) was among a handful of my favorite weddings ever. Well, two years ago is when I had the great joy of officiating Naomi's wedding to Mr. Nick Kavouras, and it will be hard to top that one. It was as close as I have come, so far, to marrying one of my own children; all the more so, since my DoRena was Naomi's maid of honor. That whole day was one big amazing celebration. And today is a cause for celebration, too, in honor of Naomi's nativity twenty-two years ago.
Today is also the birthday of another young friend, Miss Maggie Burreson, who is now a teenager (13). She's just a few months older than my son, Nicholai, and the two of them did a lot of growing up together in their first several years. Maggie's Dad (more about him in a minute) and I were classmates together at Notre Dame, beginning in 1994, the year that Maggie and Nicholai were born. My wife, LaRena, took care of Maggie during the days while her parents were going to school and working. The Burreson's have been living in St. Louis for better than half of Maggie's life now (by my reckoning), but they remain among our dearest friends. They are our Monica's Godfamily, which makes Maggie her "Godsister," as Monica has always affectionately described. We count our opportunities to visit Maggie and her family among our many blessings. And for the time being, even from a distance, I propose a virtual toast to this newest teenager. Hip, hip, hooray!
Today is a big day for Maggie's Dad, too, the Reverend Dr. Kent J. Burreson. It was on this day eleven years ago that he was ordained to the Office of the Holy Ministry, as an assistant to the pastor at St. Peter Lutheran Church in Mishawaka, Indiana. It was two weeks before my own ordination at Emmaus; so I didn't get to participate in the laying on of hands, but did get to assist otherwise with the Service. Dr. Burreson has been a professor at the Seminary in St. Louis for the past seven years now, and he is well-suited for that vocation. The Church ought to rejoice to have such a faithful teacher of the Word helping to prepare her future pastors. Such is the ongoing tradition of the Church on earth, that the Ministry of the Gospel is received and handed over from one generation of faithful pastors to the next. The Father has sent the Son; the Son has sent His chosen Apostles; and from those sainted Apostles onward, the Holy Triune God has called, ordained and sent men who follow in their footsteps. Dr. Burreson received those holy orders, that divine sending, eleven years ago today. He's one of my dearest friends and colleagues, no doubt, and I have missed him terribly since he left the South Bend area. Being colleagues in the same town was a treat, especially because of his fraternal encouragement and his evangelical pastoral care. The mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren is one of the Lord's most precious blessings. I'm grateful that I have continued to benefit from such conversations with my brother in Christ and in Office, Dr. Burreson, though I'm sorry that I don't more often avail myself of that opportunity. It's always far too easy to let the time go by with too much busy-ness. Nevertheless, especially on this day, I give thanks not only for Dr. Burreson's friendship and collegiality, but also for his faithful service to the Church.
So, get yourself a glass and fill it with your favorite Lutheran beverage, and join me in toasting the good health and happiness of several friends who celebrate important milestones on this day: To Kent, to Maggie, and to Naomi, Cheers!