God’s plans are not always our plans. The Church of the Lutheran Confession’s planned 2020 Convention was not held due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the called workers and delegates will meet this year on June 24-27 at Immanuel Lutheran College in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
In Acts 15 the Holy Spirit records a controversy that struck the early Christian church. “And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’ Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.” (Acts 15:1-2)
The question was raised: was it necessary for Gentile converts to be circumcised? For the Jewish believer in the time after Jesus’ ascension, a radical change in the status quo was taking place. The “certain men” in the passage above may have believed that they were completing Paul’s mission work; in reality, they were forcing onto their fellow believers the demands of the Old Testament Law. This disagreement led to a call for the apostles and other church leaders to convene in Jerusalem. There were strong feelings on both sides of the meeting in Jerusalem, but the Gospel, free grace by faith alone, prevailed.
The 2021 CLC Convention will have important decisions to make. The Convention will reconsider the Joint Statement with the WELS and the ELS. This will be an opportunity to search God’s Word and ensure that the practices and doctrine of our synod are in line with the Bible’s teachings.
While the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 was dealing with the question of circumcision, they used the opportunity to hear accounts from the mission field. “Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles.” (Acts 15:12) What joy these early Christians must have had to hear that the Word of the Lord was growing mightily throughout the known world!
At the CLC Convention, we will also hear news and accounts from the mission field. Both foreign and domestic mission reports will declare the wonders God works through the proclamation of the Gospel.
At the end of Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas had a difference of opinion. Barnabas wanted to bring John Mark on their mission trip, but Paul didn’t want to take someone who had left them on a prior journey. “Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another.” (Acts 15:39)
Lord willing, no contention at the CLC Convention will require physical separation from one another. But no meeting of sinful humans will be free of disagreement.
The Convention will be tasked with making financial decisions, among them a future ILC building project. It’s an opportunity to consider how best to use the financial blessings God gives us.
The Jerusalem Council’s decision was shared in a letter. ”When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement.” (Acts 15:31)
CLC Convention is not only an opportunity to help make decisions for the synod but also to rejoice in the fellowship of believers. Pray for the Convention to make God-pleasing, wise decisions. Rejoice for the mission opportunities at home and abroad. Give thanks for the fellowship of believers and the work of faithful preachers of the Word. Look forward to the perfect fellowship and unity of the Holy Christian Church when we join our Savior in heaven.
Ross Kok is a teacher at Holy Cross Lutheran School in Phoenix, Arizona.