John A. Dalleson Aug 11
Remembering Jim Glasse�
The first time I heard Jim Glasse preach it was the fall of 1972, I was a freshman architecture student at Penn State, and Jim was one of the distinguished guest preachers at the University Chapel service. Although many fine preachers visited campus that year, Jim�s sermon was by far the best. At the time, I had no idea that I would eventually sense a call to ordained ministry, but his sermon was so remarkable that I wrote to Jim at LTS and asked if he would please send me a text copy. He graciously wrote back to say that he had preached from notes, which were not in readable form, but sent me a sketch outline of what was to remain his best loved sermon, �The Art of Spiritual Snakehandling.� It seemed to me then (and I have had no reason to modify this conviction after 22 years in the pastorate) that Jim�s understanding of the Body of Christ was both theologically sound and eminently practical. It helped me understand why some people in my home church seemed more at home talking about social justice issues or mission, while others were eager to probe the minutiae of the Biblical text or encourage people to examine their personal walk with Jesus. Jim (on the good advice of St. Paul) suggested that we needed the enthusiasts, the eggheads, the pray-ers, and the chicken-fryers, as essential parts of Christ�s Body.
Fast forward to 1982, when as an about to graduate senior, I was off on an interview with a PNC at First Presbyterian Church, South Bend. Flying the first leg of the journey homeward from Chicago to Pittsburgh, after what seemed to have been a perfect long weekend�and which would result in a call�I boarded my plane and sat down in my assigned seat, only to find seated next to me, Jim Glasse. A chance encounter, perhaps, but it did not seem so to me. No, it felt as if Jim were lending a sense of benediction to a weekend filled with interviews and the dreaded neutral pulpit. �So, John, what are you doing when you graduate?� said he. �I think I am accepting a call to South Bend,� came the answer, Jim hearing the news before anyone else. In a week, the call was indeed extended. When it came time for my ordination at Highland Presbyterian, I asked Jim if he would preach the sermon. He did, a sermon called �The Mystery of Ministry.� In a celebratory service filled with joys, it was the perfect centerpiece.
Five years later, when called to Fox Chapel, Jim was then serving at a sister congregation in Pittsburgh. So I asked him if he would preach at my installation, to which he readily agreed. On the appointed day, Jim delivered a thought-provoking message. As I sat in the front pew, I thought, �What a great concept.� A bit later in the sermon, �Hmm, I have often thought that, myself.� It was not until near the end of the sermon, however, that I smiled inwardly, because, it finally dawned on me that Jim delivered to the good people of Fox Chapel what he had shared five years before at Highland. For Jim, the �mystery of ministry� was an ongoing one. And that is as it should be. Over the years, Jim kept in touch as our paths diverged. He went to the West Coast and I to Florida. Other books come and go, but Jim�s Putting It Together in the Parish and Profession Minister are always within arms reach of my desk. His creative ideas for ministry and his warm, wise voice will be part of that great company that continues to inspire me. No doubt many of my fellow LTS grads �of a certain age� will echo, �Amen.�