Personal Testimony by Will Nystrom
Given at church on Sunday, November 5, 2017
Good morning — for those who don’t know me, my name is Will Nystrom. My wife Suzanne and 3 daughters Maddie, Lily and Hazel and I have been members of St. Andrews for about 10 years. I have been asked to say a few words about St. Andrew’s, and why we feel it is important to “step up” during this year’s stewardship campaign. So if you’ll indulge me — I’d like to take you back to my youth.
When I was in confirmation class in Glastonbury, CT, 13 years old, the same age Hazel (our youngest) is now, we had a Sunday morning service where the confirmands did the bible readings, served alongside the ushers, and sang with the choir. Now, we were pretty thin on talent but they wanted someone to play the organ during the processional. I had 3 very spotty years in piano lessons (which was more than my guitar and drum lessons lasted). But that apparently was enough. It was a simple piece by Bach. I still remember it. And I practiced hard. I swear. During the processional, about 1/2 way through the piece as the ministers and choir were heading down the aisle, I froze on a chord and just kept my fingers pressed hard on the keys. I glanced out and saw the whole procession just like jolt to a stop, the choir bumping into each other. And now I was really frozen, and just staring at my music sheet. But then, from nowhere, I felt light pressure on my fingers gently guiding me through the next notes and chords, and I snapped out of it and was able to finish the piece. I was beyond mortified. But I looked up and the choir director had a smile on her face. During the sermon, the minister commented on my playing and the congregation applauded. An older parishioner I didn’t know wrote me a note to say how courageous I was to finish playing.
Well I’m 51 now and not much has changed. As part of a Christian Learning announcement I made last year, during Lent of course, I called coffee hour, happy hour. Still doing my best to botch the service. But when I got back to my seat, a parishioner whispered in my ear “that was awesome.” Now, I have never told my daughters the organ story because our older 2, Maddie (who is now in college) and Lily (who is a high school senior), have served as crucifers and I didn’t want to jinx them. And Hazel has to keep two hands on the bible when the Gospel is read, and I definitely didn’t want to mess with that.
But St Andrews has given our family the same warm embrace I received during my only public organ recital almost 40 years ago. The rules of the outside world don’t apply here. We can laugh, cry, learn God’s teaching, join in prayer and fellowship, and always, always be treated with love. Together, in love. My favorite time of the week is when at least parts of my family are kneeling together taking communion, and then praying together back at the pews. I think a child reciting the Lord’s Prayer is one of the most beautiful sounds on earth. And I have had the joy of hearing my children recite it at St Andrews for over a decade. Suzanne and I give the most we can to St Andrews because this congregation is all St Andrews has. And If we need to stretch a little more this year to help reach the new budget, we will. Thank you for listening. God Bless.