John’s Surprise Oral Exam

If John had been the least bit nervous, I couldn’t tell it. This was about the fourth time he stood before the Sunday School class to present a video series about Martin Luther. If you didn’t know, October of this year marks the 500th year since Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the church in Germany. Each week John has presented background history to the class while young Adam set up the DVD at the front of the church. If Adam hits a snag, as he did this time, John keeps talking until the video is ready. That in itself would be unnerving, but it doesn’t seem to bother John.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the dignitary come in. He had preached at the early service and sat through John’s class before preaching at the late service. It was Dr. Dale Meyer, former Lutheran Hour Speaker (aired nationally) and now president of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, the main seminary of the Missouri Synod Lutheran Church. John handled it with aplomb. As our class dispersed, I saw Adam hand Dr. Meyer the disk. He had gone forward to speak to John and mentioned that the Synod and the seminary had done videos, but this was one he hadn’t seen. John told the man they had met at a nursing home he was involved with in Brooklyn, mentioning people they knew in common. Dr. Meyer remembered having been there.

On the way home, I asked, “Were you nervous when Dr. Meyer came in? If so, you didn’t show it.”

John told the story from his view. He said, “Before we began to set up, Dot [an enthusiastic member of the class] told me she had chatted with him after the early service. She said her class had the most marvelous video and a wonderful leader to explain things, and he should come to our class. So, I had advance notice that he was coming. That was a lot to live up to.”

30 thoughts on “John’s Surprise Oral Exam

    1. I’m still impressed by John’s ability to keep his cool in front of a crowd. He taught Reformation history to fifth and sixth graders in Sunday School for donkey’s years, so watching him teach is new to me. I had to giggle, thinking of you with cotton mouth. My imagination is not vivid enough to think what you would sound like.

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      1. I had to give a talk one time at a women’s retreat. They always first have a weekend of practice talks, which is good. I discovered my mouth got so dry my lips stuck way up high on my teeth! And it was not coming down! When I tried to get a drink of water my hand was shaking and as I kept talking I was also thinking (cause women can multi-task like that) “great now I am going to douse myself too!” I survived and have since learned to put one tic-tac in my cheek while I speak in front of a crowd. Keeps the dry mouth away! With God and a tic-tac anything is possible!

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    2. You were really brave to speak at a women’s retreat! I laughed and laughed at your comments on that, especially being worried about sloshing water on yourself. I’m sure it wasn’t funny at the time, but your writing makes it hilarious.

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      1. Looking back it was funny. My sister was sitting at a table and I could see her eyes as huge and round as can be (which is probably why I was having an entire separate conversation with myself). I can only say that when the weekend came and I had to give that talk….it wasn’t me…it was God delivering the message. There is no way I could do that alone.
        We still laugh about that practice weekend.

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  1. Anne,
    John seems to have been in his element- there is a thing to be said for living one’s dream and doing things one is passionate about- our words and actions seem to flow freely out of our bodies when this happens and then when we want it, every element of the universe works with us to get the thing right (Divine providence I call it).
    We have learnt of the Protestant Reformation and the foundations of the Lutheran church in our regular school history ( Renaissance period) so that is familiar to me but I didn’t know about the 95 theses he pinned on the door of the church and I didn’t know that is how the Reformation started.
    I wish I could have heard John speak as I would have learnt a lot- did you tape his message ?
    Also who is Adam ?
    Did John prepare the DVDs himself – what is in them ?

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    1. Americans took the nailing of the 95 theses as an iconic moment for the Protestant Reformation. It was easy to remember and simple to depict. There were many things leading to Luther’s theological convictions. God was also setting the world stage so that everything was prepared for this movement. I’m sure John could tell you all about it in five or six months. I did not record John’s talk. It should have been only a few minutes long, introducing the video. Adam is a young man in the church who is very good with electronic things. None of us know how to make all the components work together. The videos were prepared by Lutheran Hour. Mostly they have theologians explaining lots of things about the Reformation.

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    1. Your vocabulary is just fine, Chris — proceed with confidence. I approve of your wanting to know more words, but you already have more than enough. My situation is a little different. I’m forever trying to use words I can’t spell, so I need lots to choose from. Did you notice the background of the robin video? Ariel is dancing with her friends on the dresser. They are glad they are not as big and clunky as the robin.

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    2. I haven’t found how to left click without a mouse!!!! Bet there is a way. Sometimes I use two fingers to tap the pad. Maybe that’s the same thing. The spelling checker is hard to activate on this computer. Maybe I’m just lazy.


  2. The Sunday school class he taught was one of my favorites ever. And his personal history tutoring. He made history interesting for me, making it come alive. What a great gift he has!


  3. I love using quotes from time to time from Martin Luther. One of my favorite biographies to read is called, ‘Kitty, My Rib.’ The story is of his wife, how they met, and their life together. I’ve read it more than once.


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