* GETTING EXCITED ABOUT A SYNOD CONVENTION (?!)
Synodical conventions are often seen as anything but exciting and electrifying. How does one get excited anyhow about sitting in meetings in hot and humid weather to wee hours of the night discussing doctrinal matters, ‘hammering out’ budgets and programs . . .?
“Try it, you’ll like it.” On-site experience proves that, far from being just dull and tedious (yes, they can be that at times), more often sessions are stimulating and inspiring. They are that mostly because the Spirit is there daily and richly in the Word, formally in devotions and essays and informally in floor-debate and out-of-session “under the fig tree” (cf. 1 Kgs. 4:25, Micah 4:4) conversation.
Surely none can be unstirred, unmoved, and unaffected when the assembly joins voices in hymns of praise to Him who is the entire reason for being there in the first place.
Speaking of “electricity” at Convention, an unsolicited but welcome writing recently came to us. The article called “Thoughts About The Convention” is by Greg Kesterson, a member of our congregation in Sioux Falls, S.Dak.
As we now share excerpts from Greg’s thoughts, may a good deal of “un-convention-al” excitement rub off on the rest of us.
“I will not be going to this year’s CLC convention, But I do have some thoughts concerning this greatest event.
“. . . Essays in the past have attempted to cover a wide variety of subjects from God’s Word and I have received some of my greatest spiritual refreshment when I pondered what these papers talked about. The Lord’s hand was truly blessing me in a very wonderful way by all of these wonderful convention essays.
“As an ILC graduate, I am always so fondly interested in how that school changes from year to year while still giving out that same glorious gospel message that it does. You might even say that ILC (exemplifies) the life, type and blood of the CLC. In this way the Lord preserves this school so that it may tell forth His Word from generation to generation.
“I also remember observing with keen interest how (the delegates) would hammer out the CLC budget for each two-year period, as they attempted to use God’s gift of money along with all of His other gifts to us in a spirit of thanksgiving. Moreover, our CLC Board of Doctrine leads the way in keeping our church body orthodox, being themselves led and empowered by the Holy Spirit. I also greatly love the idea of missions . . . Mission work always enables us to do many fruitful activities for our dearest Savior as we tell others of their terrible, desperate need for Him and also the greatest things He has done for them. . . .
“And now I would like to speak of the fondest, most beautiful convention memory which I have. This memory concerns that most fabulous night of June 20, 1996. That convention’s committee on doctrine painstakingly created a document with joint cooperation by some of those who had been on the other side of the third use of the law controversy. . . . We welcomed back into fellowship those who had been separated from us for 18 years. We all besought forgiveness for our offenses against one another. Following all of this there was a doxology which everyone sang in greatest praise to our God who brought all this about. . . .
“By the time of this year’s convention . . . may our dearest Lord grant us that same spirit of devoutness and reverence. . . . May He call us to praise and glorify His greatest and most Holy Name in every way that we can as we employ the name and the power of the Holy Spirit in order to do this most marvelous task.”
Thanks, Greg, for the encouraging words. Let’s all be praying for the delegates at the 23rd CLC Convention.
* CHRISTIAN YOUNG PEOPLE ‘SHINING’
(Glenn Oster of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church & School, West Columbia, S.C. said we could share with you his recent e-mail posting. Under the title “Let your light shine….” it related the following true story:)
Several young ladies (high school freshmen and sophomores) from our congregation went out to eat together over the recent spring break.
They didn’t realize that a man eating in a (near-by) booth immediately noticed them. He watched as they all bowed their heads and prayed together before the meal. He watched as they engaged in lively conversation, without becoming “wild.” He noticed the respect they showed their server.
As he got up to leave, he walked over to their table, picked up their ticket, and told them that their meal was on him. He stated that it wasn’t very often that teenagers behaved as they did, and he wanted to show them that that type of behavior was very much appreciated.
These young ladies are all results of Christian upbringing and graduates of our Christian Day School. It is wonderful and gratifying to see that the Christian training we offer in our homes and in our schools makes such an obvious difference in our kids. Praise to the Lord!
* ‘THE MOST GLORIOUS OFFICE IN THE WORLD’
The “Clergy Talk Discussion Forum” is an E-mail exchange of thoughts and ideas among many of our CLC pastors. The items exchanged include pithy quotes from the pastors’ reading. The following words were posted by Pastor Paul Naumann, DuPont, Wash., who also serves as moderator of this forum.
. . . Teachers of the Word of God are . . . most despised and even hated by the world. Nevertheless their estate and office is the most glorious of all, for the following reasons:
1. The work of their office centers about man’s spiritual welfare, his immortal soul.
2. They employ the most salutary means and instrument in their work, namely, the Word of the living God.
3. They aim at the most salutary and glorious end, namely to make man truly happy in the present life and to lead him to the life of eternal bliss.
4. They are most wholesomely engaged in an occupation which entirely satisfies their spirits and advances their own selves in the way of salvation.
5. Their labor yields the most precious result, namely, the salvation of man.
6. Their labors have the most glorious promise of the cooperation of the Lord, so that they are never entirely futile and in vain.
7. Their labors have the promise of a gracious reward, which consists in a glory in the world to come that is unutterably great, exceeding abundantly above all they ever could have asked and prayed for in this life.
If men would stop to consider these points, they would come crowding into the sacred office of the ministry and that of teachers of religion . . . . Parents would deem it a high honor and a special grace of God if they could have their sons trained for this sacred office. (LAW AND GOSPEL, Dr. C. F. W. Walther, p. 285)
Spoken over 100 years ago (May 8, 1885) as part of an evening lecture, Walther’s words have never been more timely. Most church bodies are experiencing a drop-off in young men training for the pastoral ministry as well as “expected” retirements and “unexpected” resignations for a variety of reasons.
If this is true of other church bodies, our CLC is not exempt. It’s not that there has been a fall-off of young men studying for the ministry in our midst. Seldom have we had prospects for more than two or three graduates in any given year and there are three pastoral candidates entering the field this Spring. At the same time, as of this writing there are two prospects for the CLC clergy through colloquy.
Yet, at the time the above quote appeared on Clergy-Talk there were seven pastoral vacancies in our midst. Inevitably, more prospects for the classification of retiree loom. The need is always urgent.
As Dr. Walther itemizes them, there are many profound and fulfilling reasons that young men should be encouraged to give more than passing consideration to a work which, while “most despised and hated by the world,” is also “the most glorious of all.”
Parents, please notice that Dr. Walther refers to you. He implies that your role is crucial in encouraging your son(s) in the direction of the public ministry.
Let us be praying that the Spirit of the Lord move mightily in the hearts of those with the God-given gifts for the most glorious office in the world.