One of the first people I met when I moved to Grafton North Dakota was Rev. Howard Jording. Pastor Jording was serving the vacancy at Trinity Lutheran Church in Drayton, while Pastor Victor Tegtmeier served the vacancy at Zion in Grafton. Pastor Jording was the preacher at my installation at Trinity and he took the time to drive me around to different places to meet different people who lived out in the countryside.
One of my fondest remembrances is that at everyplace we stopped he tried to figure out a way to get me some commodities. “How about 50 pounds of potatoes for the new Rev?”he’d say, or “does your wife have any of that home baked bread he can have.?”
Pastor Jording was one of those individuals that I like to call “simple country preachers”. He knew the love of Christ, he lived in the rhythm of confession and absolution the way rural folks live in the rhythm of seedtime and harvest. He had a wicked sense of humor. His conferring of honorary doctorate’s to people who belonged to his circuit after he moved away from rural St. Thomas was legendary. People used to get upset if they weren’t given the Doctorate and the baseball hat that went with it. Another pastor friend of mine by the name of Glenn Korb was my parents preacher for a while up in Rock Lake ND. He received his honorary doctorate without moving to the Southeast corner of the State. He received it after he married a veterinarian. Jording’s rationale? “We are presenting you this honorary doctorate so that when you get up in the morning you can say to her good morning Dr. and she can say to you good morning Dr. too.”
I don’t think it’s too much to say that the preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and witnessing to him as Lord and Savior literally was Howard’s life. I know he loved his family and I know he loved his wife, but his life was the proclamation of Christ. I was doing a presentation in Ortonville Minnesota and who came shambling in the door of the church basement but Dr. Jording and his wife Lucia: long since retired. Why was he there? He had taken the vacancy and was serving that congregation until they got a full-time pastor. This was well into his retirement years and has always served as an example to me that “old preachers never die they just change venues”. I remember that wicked sense of humor in a parody song that he had either written, or found somewhere. It was sung to the tune of “Rhinestone Cowboy”. It was called “Worn Out Preacher”. The refrain partially was “I’m a worn-out preacher riding back and forth on these Lonesome Prairie Roads.” He spent a lot of time on those lonesome prairie roads. I do too and I appreciate the time that allows me to contemplate God’s mercy and grace, the marvelous gift of salvation we have in Jesus. I thank God that that worn-out preacher had ample time to contemplate God’s mercy and grace in his life and the blessing that he was to others.
I received this today from his daughter
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8
Friends and Family,
I am writing to let you know that my father’s (Rev. Dr. Howard Jording) has finished his race. He is now with Jesus before the Throne of God. A friend of mine recently told me “this is what he has been waiting for his whole life”!
We covet your prayers.
Funeral arrangements are still pending.