Baptized for This Moment4 min read

2013 National Lutheran Schools Week

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” (Acts 2:38-39 ESV).

As I reflect upon Acts 2:38-39, I cannot but help to reflect upon the last year and a half. In the spring of 2011, my father was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. It was a miracle that it was caught so early as I am told this is not the case for many. Within a very short time, my father and mother traveled to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. to seek medical attention from some of the finest physicians in the world. It was determined since the cancer was caught so early that surgery was an option. After several chemotherapy and radiation therapy treatments, my father’s esophagus and the top portion of his stomach were removed. This was no minor surgery.

In seven short days, my father recovered enough to be released from the hospital, and he came to my home to recover. Everything was looking so good, but within 24 hours he was back in the hospital due to excruciating stomach pain. His stomach split open and the contents of his stomach had emptied into his body and he became septic. It was a frightening time. I was told that family members should come to see him because chance for survival was minimal.

The surgeons determined that they must go back in and clean out his body cavity. The surgery was done and a patch was placed upon his stomach. We were told that there was only a half percent chance that he would make it. I remember telling him before the first surgery and over the past year and a half, “Dad, no matter what, it will be okay.” My dad was “baptized for this moment.” All we had to hold onto during this time and over the past bumpy year was what my father received in his baptism through water and God’s Word … means of Grace … forgiveness … faith in Christ.

My father is one of my faith heroes. He is a product of a Lutheran school. He continued to grow in faith as God’s Word was shared with him each and every day when he went to school at Immanuel, Alpena. Later, he and my mother decided to enroll me in that very same Lutheran school. It is through the witness of my parents, my Lutheran teachers, and pastors that God led me to become a Commissioned Minister of Religion; today I serve Peace, Saginaw as its principal.

It is my prayer that God will use me, my Peace partners, and other Lutheran teachers in Michigan to make an eternal difference in the lives of our students and families. God has Called me and many other teachers to educate His children, through the workings of the Holy Spirit, what it means to be “baptized for this moment” … every opportunity in which we rely upon our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through faith … every moment … every day … all the time.

Today, my father is hospitalized again. He has been cured of cancer but continues to fight for life as the treatments have left him unable to eat by mouth. I thank God that my father was blessed by faithful parents who gave him the gift of a Lutheran Christian education. I thank God that my father knows His Lord and Savior. I thank God that despite the challenges of the past year, the Lord has held him tight in faith and given him the assurance that “no matter what, it will be okay.” These are the moments for which we are baptized … given the gift of faith … and the assured gift of eternal life.

Celebrating National Lutheran Schools Week for me is so much more than celebrating the great gift of Lutheran schools … it is celebrating the kept promises of our God, and the faith that gives my father a hope and a future despite all he has been through.

To celebrate National Lutheran Schools Week, students, educators, staff, and families of LCMS schools are encouraged to develop a video depicting what the 2013 Synod Convention theme, “Baptized for This Moment,” means to you. A panel of judges from the LCMS will select some of the videos to show at the Convention, which is set for July 20-25 in St. Louis, Mo. Submission deadline is March 1, 2013.

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About the Author

Henry G. Pahlkotter, II, is the principal at Peace, Saginaw. He is a graduate of Concordia University Ann Arbor and received his Masters of Educational Leadership from Saginaw Valley State University. Henry, his wife Debbie, and their three children moved back to Michigan from Rochester, Minnesota and now reside in Saginaw Township.

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