On Saturday, August 15, I went to Ponca City, OK. That was where I was born and spent my childhood through the middle of seventh grade.
I had been asked to preach for part of their year-long 90th Anniversary of the congregation.
What an honor!
I had previously had the privilege of preaching for the school’s 50th Anniversary in 2004.
I got the Ponca fairly early on Saturday. That gave me plenty of time to drive around, see the old homes we lived in, places we visited, landmarks I recalled, and just bring back some great memories.
As is always the case, there were some things that had changed for the worse, but overall, the city looked better than I recalled from 2004.
I also took the time to go through a tour of the Marland Mansion, of which I only had vague recollections. I’m glad I did that!
For dinner, I went to the Blue Moon! That hardest part of my time there was deciding between the day’s special of Chicken Fried Steak or their amazing ribs. I went for the ribs.
They were amazing! The meat was falling off the bone. No sauce was needed to bring out their flavor! So good!
Sunday morning before worship, countless friendly, smiling faces came up to introduce themselves, asking if I remembered them [I’m sorry; most I couldn’t!], telling me they remember me [I get worried sometimes about that!], relating their relationship to my folks and sister and asking how they were all doing. It was very nice!
For worship, I got to share a message of HOPE from Psalm 90:1. They were all very gracious in their reflections.
They also had several First Lutheran Graduates from the past share about their time at First and what it meant to them. That was cool! Listening to people share about how the Foundation of Jesus they received at First Lutheran prepared them and made them who they are today was special.
During the services, they also (re-)dedicated the school faculty and staff. I always enjoy seeing whom God has chosen to teach and bring up children in His way at a church and school.
After the second service, there was a wonderful lunch in the cafeteria [one of several new beautiful buildings since I was there last]. Some nice conversations accompanied the great food (and deserts!).
After lunch there were a couple of cool basketball games. One was between the current First Lutheran team against recent First Lutheran graduates. That was fun to watch!
Another game was played between some former alumni; “odd year” graduates versus “even year” ones. For some reason, the odd year graduates were quite a bit older (and bigger) than the others. Had I packed appropriate shoes and clothes, I might have been able to play with the odd year graduates. Alas, watching the fun game confirmed that it was good I didn’t have appropriate attire as I would probably have been taken to the hospital before my flight back!
It was a wonderful, though short, trip. I am so thankful for the people and education I received at First Lutheran Church & School and how the Lord is continuing that same blessing for current and future generations!
A reason for HOPE, indeed!
Thank you, Lord, for First Lutheran! Thank you, First Lutheran, for your gracious hospitality and honor!