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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Everyday saints

It was the last night of Eilert Bargen's life. As I bent over his bed, he fingered my lapel, smiled and whispered in a raspy, tired voice, "Oh ... it's my big brother. It's so good to see you. ... It's time to say auf wiedersehen" (till we meet again).

I was Eilert's big brother. He was 60 years older than me, but I was his pastor and he was dying and had one final blessing to speak to me: "Just remember, Pastor, we love you, and we love you a lot."
I was Eilert's big brother. He was 60 years older than me, but I was his pastor and he was dying and had one final blessing to speak to me: "Just remember, Pastor, we love you, and we love you a lot."

He also had a final request. Gathering his strength one last time Eilert said, "Say it with me Pastor ... my confirming verse." And we did, in the language in which he first heard it: "Sei getreu bis zum Tod und will ich dir die Krone des Lebens geben." (Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.)
I think he fell asleep after that.

Sometime near midnight my little brother breathed his last, and I reached over and closed his old eyes. They were as clear and blue as on the morning after his confirmation, when his parents put him on a boat bound for America.

Driving home, I started crying and pulled the car to the side of the road. I sat on the front bumper and looked at the stars. "What kind of people do you make, Lord?" I sobbed at the shimmering sky.

It was a good prayer. I already knew the answer.

And so do the people who tell their stories on the pages that follow. Several months ago we asked you to tell us about everyday saints, those who passed on the faith to you and nurtured your soul.

You shared stories about your parents, friends, teachers, congregation members and even unnamed folk who performed deeds of great faith, mercy and courage that maybe only you noticed.

But that's the way it is. The things that fill our souls--that give us faith, meaning and joy--often happen quietly with few people watching.




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