A Convention Message
June 17 will be the beginning of the CLC family reunion known as convention.
As before any family reunion much work has gone into preparation for convention. In April the various boards met in Eau Claire prior to the Coordinating Council meeting. According to the description in the bylaws of the CLC Constitution, “The primary function of the Coordinating Council shall be to coordinate the work of the various boards of the Church of the Lutheran Confession and to propose an annual budget which shall be presented to the convention for action during convention years.”
The boards met this year late into the evening to discuss their particular responsibilities, and to prepare budgets. For the first time in recent memory, the Coordinating Council itself went well into the afternoon of the last day. These meetings of the boards and the Coordinating Council were more than “housekeeping” chores. The fruit of their work can be seen in the Prospectus that you will be receiving, and discussing in your congregation and in delegate conferences. As one can see, the convention will be addressing some very important and knotty practical issues in the interest of the work of the kingdom.
The Prospectus will also alert everyone to the doctrinal matters to be addressed. When we address doctrinal maters we are getting closer to addressing the real purpose of our church. Doctrine is important. The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine . . . . Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Tim. 4:13,16). True doctrine is important to salvation, and continuing in it no less important.
The theme of our convention, therefore, in spite of the practical matters that come before it, concentrates on doctrine — the doctrine of the Means of Grace.
When we speak of the Means of Grace we are speaking of the Gospel. Pure and simple. It is through the water and Word of Baptism that we have been translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of Light. In that blessed Means of Grace our Lord claimed us for His own, and blessed us with every blessing in Christ Jesus. He exhorts us, and gives us the privilege, to feast regularly on “the sincere milk of the Word” (1 Pet. 2:2). Through that Word, both read and heard, He perfects the good work which He through His Spirit has begun in us. Finally, through the sacrament of His body and blood our Lord strengthens each penitent in a most personal fashion.
The Means of Grace are given us by our Lord as a means to an end — the end is conversion and strengthening in faith in Christ to the purpose that we should live in the hope of heaven, and attain the end of our faith which is the fulfillment of our hope, the reality of life in heaven. Therefore we have chose as our theme: WE APPRECIATE THE MEANS OF GRACE.
We encourage every delegate to bear in mind that what we do in convention, however detached it may seem from the mission of the church, is in reality in the service of the Lord and of the Means of Grace. Keeping that in mind will help guide our attitude toward all matters, doctrinal and practical, as well as our relationship to one another. Remembering that we are in convention in the service of our Lord and the Means of Grace will be demonstrated by a firmness in doctrine that is manifest at the same time through a spirit of evangelical meekness and fervor.
Our family reunion is a reunion with a divine purpose. The Church of the Lutheran Confession is not here to perpetuate itself. The convention is not called to devise innovative programs so that we can make a bigger splash in the ecclesiastical ocean.
The essays this year will direct our attention to the Means of Grace, and encourage us to grow in appreciation of our Reformation heritage, our worship heritage, as well as new zeal to share the good news. Nothing that we resolve in convention is worth our time, money, or effort if we do not keep the Means of Grace at the center and core of our preaching and church life. Indeed, unless we do, we will not have shown due respect to doctrine, and even less for the Lord Himself Who has placed the doctrine of the Gospel at the center of His commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, (by) baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Mt. 28:19-20). Scripture tells us that it is by grace that we are saved. With what else shall we therefore concern ourselves than proclaiming the grace of God through the means He Himself has given us?
To all who travel to convention, delegates and visitors, we wish God’s grace for safe journey. We pray that our convention reunion be a manifestation of grace at work. We are confident that it will be because we trust the power of the Means of Grace through which we are saved also to effect what is good and pleasing to the Lord.
–Pastor Daniel Fleischer