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Remembering Mrs. Lehman… and her many sisters

June 17, 2015 One Comment

by Robert Bugbee

Marjory Lehman.

Marjorie Lehman.

I never had the privilege of living as a neighbour to Marjorie Lehman. We saw one another rather infrequently at conventions, seminary graduations, or events like the national pastors’ and deacons’ conference. I cannot boast of many shared experiences with her nor claim to know her nearly as well as people who worked beside her or were members of her home congregation.

Nevertheless, she made an impression on me. It’s fitting at this moment to thank God for her and the unique place she had in our midst, especially after her husband, Rev. Dr. Edwin Lehman, was elected first President of Lutheran Church–Canada at its constituting convention in 1988. He surely misses her most of all. I know many of you join me in wishing him and their children Christ’s comfort in what must be sad days of adjustment. Marjorie died in the Lord on April 9, 2015, the anniversary of her baptism. Her funeral service came a week later at Concordia Lutheran Church, Edmonton, in the presence of family, friends, and a large number of mourners. Some had traveled a long way to say farewell.

She was not an overtly public person. I don’t recall hearing her make speeches on stage. At the same time, the Lord endowed her with a heartwarming temperament, a graciousness that embraced people with kindness and respect. She displayed a beating heart for Christ’s work and His church in gentle ways. “I have ties,” she quietly told convention-goers back in the days when she sold her own hand-sewed neckties; proceeds went to missionary work. She kept attending conventions and other gatherings to support and encourage us, even after she required a walker to get around and could have understandably chosen to stay home. Marjorie had a rich devotional life; she faced mounting health problems and death itself with composure deeply rooted in the Christ she trusted as her personal Saviour. If you were to have asked, I imagine she would have counted herself a very ordinary person. Truth is that she was an irreplaceable person. Gatherings where I got accustomed to seeing her will seem a bit colder and emptier now that she is gone from us.

Marge Lehman had many sisters. I’m talking now of the countless women who vow lifelong faithfulness as the wives of our pastors. Rarely are they recognized in public or named in church anniversary booklets as much as their preacher-husbands are. Frequently they are overlooked altogether. The Lord sees every bit of good they do and the help they offer even when people pay little attention. The Lord knows their lonely times when husbands are away for long periods serving far-flung congregations of our church in Canada. The Lord hears the prayers they speak on behalf of a husband facing a heated meeting or a tense counseling appointment when he couldn’t confide his fears to anybody else. The Lord gives them stamina to meet their family’s needs. He sees their willingness to live far from loved ones and places where they grew up; sees how many struggle to manage on a meagre family income and rarely complain. Some have bubbly personalities and throw themselves into the thick of busy congregations in a visible way; others provide strength behind the scenes… maybe not as noticeable, but solid and sustaining, just the same.

Mrs. Lehman’s sisters are still with us. They should be remembered, and not just later on after they are gone. I dearly hope that married pastors themselves will not take for granted the blessing God has shown through these faithful life’s partners, but will tell them today of their love and gratitude, and name them before the Lord when they pray. I hope that members of our churches across the land will let them know what an encouragement they are, and will seek to befriend and support them, especially if they live far from their extended families. Even if they stumble and display shortcomings at times, I hope God’s people will embrace them with patience and forgiveness, since we ourselves live only by the forgiveness we receive from Christ.

The holy writer declared, “A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies” (Proverbs 31:10). If that is true in many cases—and it is—it is especially so when one considers the strong, pious, devoted life’s partners the Lord has given to our pastors and to our church. Their love is absolutely priceless; jewels are cheap stuff by comparison. You and I do well to remember them, the ones who are still with us and those who have gone to glory. Praise God for such gifts! Encourage them as you can! It’s one of the finest tributes our church could offer to the memory of Marge Lehman… and her many sisters.

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Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee is President of Lutheran Church–Canada.

  • Wendy-Lee Kruesel

    Lovely tribute to a wonderful woman of God :)