My first full-time appointment was in the little town of Geddes, SD.  It was a town of 303 people, and almost all of them went to either the Catholic church or the United Methodist church.  Why?  Because those were the only two churches in town!   I loved that small town, but one thing that drove me nuts about this town and the rural area around it is that they always referenced things that were 50-years-old!

One of the things about successful ministry, I learned from my dad and was to take the majority of that first year to do home visits.  He was right.  As soon as I started visiting, word got around that I cared, and before you knew it real ministry was happening in this little town!  One of the first people I went to see in Geddes was Robert and Agnus McFarland.  Agnes was the area piano teacher.  She had taught piano in that area for over 60 years.  They lived out in the country, so before I headed out to see them, I called them up and asked them where they lived.   Robert had answered the phone and was brief, “We are 3 miles north of the Lone Tree Corner!”  and hung up.  Reluctantly I called again and said, “Robert, I’m sorry but I don’t know where the Lone Tree Corner is.”  “Oh,” he said, “Its just north of town…take the gravel until you get to the lone tree and then head north.” 

And so, I was at it.   I travelled out on the gravel east of town (not sure if he meant east or west) and drove and drove and drove.  No Lone tree!   I headed west of town on gravel and drove and drove and drove.  No lone tree!  

Finally, I stopped back in town at the local Co-op station and asked Bud Krietlow, a member of our church, if he knew where the Lone Tree Corner was.  He said, “Oh, that’s easy it’s 3 miles east of town on the gravel.”   I smiled but shook my head.  “That can’t be.  I just drove that road and there’s not a lone tree to be seen.”   He smiled and said, “That’s because they cut it down 22 years ago!  We still call it the Lone Tree Corner though!”

As I look out into our world, I think there are a bunch of folk traveling through life looking for a landmark in this world to base their lives on.   The church is under the assumption that most of them have been to church at one time in their lives.  We get this idea that if we can just get them to remember that landmark that eventually they will turn back to it in a time of need.   That may be true.  But it’s been my experience that many people have no clue as to what the landmark of grace and love in Jesus Christ is.  The church’s job isn’t just to point out the landmark, today we must learn to show that landmark in our lives and to share that landmark with our witness, both verbally and non-verbally.  Both is needed.

This fall, our first sermon series will be all about learning to tell our story of faith with hands, feet, and voices.   The biggest challenge for most of us will be that verbal part.  Take some time and think about how you might verbally point others to the landmark of the grace and love of Jesus Christ.  In your prayers ask God to help you with words that might heal and give life, and then listen for God’s tender voice.  As God to give you the courage to share those words with other.

Your friend and pastor, overjoyed to know that the tree I have based my life on is the living God I’ve come to know in Jesus Christ, Brook   



Tim Schaaf