Saturday, July 19, 2014
Paul Eugene Swedlund
Entered Life - July 31, 1946
Entered New Life - August 17, 1994
I'll never forget Rod, a pastor with me in Kansas City, calling me on August 17, 1994 while I was teaching a Bible study in New Kensington, Pennsylvania: "Bob, Paul is dead."
Twenty years have passed since Paul fell off a mountain in Colorado on his way back to Jesus; and because his spirit lives on with Him, a day has not passed that I have not felt his eternal affections. While I'd prefer to have him around in time, he is as alive to me now as he was over two decades ago.
Along with another Paul, he was one of my two closest friends in seminary; and I still recall saying simultaneously with the other Paul as we recollected over coffee only moments before co-presiding at his memorial service at Kansas City's Colonial Presbyterian Church, "I wonder who will preside at the next service."
I remember so much: stories of his captaining a riverboat in Vietnam, working for Mobil for a while after that before he yielded to the irresistible call to pastoral ministry, riding with the other Paul and me on our motorcycles on Friday afternoons to New Hope, Pennsylvania for a mental bath after Greek, playing on the best seminary softball team that ever hit the diamond in central New Jersey, skipping the second hour of Dr. Metzger's Christology class with about ten others in our last year to pick up lunch at Hoagie Haven on our way to watch coeds from the university rowing team as we joked that his children proved the virgin birth of Jesus, working together at Mathematica and in prison ministry as seminary interns, convincing him to return to the PCUSA from the UCC because the UCC's apostasies were accelerating even faster than the PCUSA's back then, and hearing him say this after convincing him to run the Shamrock Marathon in Virginia Beach in 1978, "How I ever let you talk me into this is beyond me!"
Four other significant snapshots come to mind.
First, we survived his hatred of the Yankees.
Second, he called me about 11:00 p.m. on the night before my Hebrew final and asked me to join him to search bars in New York City for someone who had broken parole. I told him that I had an A going into the final and he said, "So what do you think is more important to Jesus? An A in Hebrew or helping a man to get his life back together?"
BTW, he never apologized for or even acknowledged my angst over more graduate studies as a result of going from an A to B- in less than 12 hours.
Third, while he switched back to the PCUSA from the UCC and seemed rather happy about it for almost 15 years, he would always tell me to "stay where you've been planted" and often warned me about playing to the ideological mobs for vocational advantages and personal perks; so I've sensed his affirmation during these days declaring "remnant" as our family of faith's decision at FPC in Belvidere, Illinois to remain faithfully in a denomination irretrievably apostate under current management has irritated the elated left, confused center, and outraged right because we don't agree and won't cooperate with the left, have convictions unlike the center, and ain't gonna hide, run away, or quit like the right.
Fourth, only rivaled by Dr. William Reed's conversion to becoming a fierce advocate for the sanctity of all human life after realizing the horrific hypocrisy, intellectual dishonesty, and spiritual depravity of Kansas City's St. Luke's Hospital as he operated on newborn hearts on one floor while other doctors murderously ripped the unborn limb from limb on another floor, Paul's words while pastor of that city's Northminster Presbyterian Church continue to drive my personal passion for urging confession and repentance for a country and too many so-called "Christian" churches that confuse abortion with contraception: "I know you love to see our children during their time of the worship service; and you must remember that, to God, there is no difference between the children that you see on Sunday mornings that bring so much joy to you and the children in the womb that you don't see but God does."
Paul is in heaven now - where he belongs.
He is eternal.
I know that because I feel him every day.
He has been rewarded; because he was a part of the faithful remnant.
No matter what the pressures from an ungrateful and increasingly unfaithful country or church, Paul remained faithfully.
He looked up, stood up, spoke up, and acted up for Jesus by the book.
I hope you have friends like Paul E. Swedlund.
I'm more concerned about you and me.
Blessings and Love!