Thursday, January 14, 2010

Accompaniment! Ben Larson dies with the people of Haiti

Ben Larson believed so deeply in walking with one another in the global church. He accompanied the Haitian people during his J-Term as a senior student at Wartburg Seminary. And he died together with tens of thousands of Haitians in the earthquake this week.

I am grieving deeply over the loss of this gentle, caring, pastoral man who loved to collect music of people in the global community. His wife, Renee, and cousin, Jon, also senior Wartburg students, were in Haiti and survived. They will miss Ben. His parents, April and Judd Ulring Larson and Ben’s two older sisters will miss Ben. Ben’s classmates, yet scattered all over the world during their J-Terms studies will miss him. I miss Ben already! The parishioners who will not now have the opportunity to have Ben as their pastor will suffer that loss, too, even though they never will have known him.

Ben’s joy and grace and love live on. I remember so much about him. I see him even now while I sit at my keyboard just a couple of hours after hearing of his death. I remember his passion for justice. I remember the way he had such great appreciation and respect for his parents, a clergy couple. Yes, April was the first woman bishop in the ELCA. And Judd is a caring, loving, gentle pastor. Ben would so clearly say—often—the things he specifically learned from each of his parents. Burton and I relate as clergy couple parents of three sons.

I miss Ben as his professor. He listened so well and then gently offered a profound and kind comment. I see him in front of me now.

re joined in the cross of Christ. We cannot comprehend the catastrophe in Haiti, a country of courageous, suffering people. We cannot make sense of it. Making sense of it is not our calling. We walk with Jesus wherever he leads, and in this accompaniment Jesus’ cross and resurrection is our comfort and our strength.

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