Wednesday, May 26, 2010
An Amazing Video
Second is the fact that a church body would gather to celebrate the rebirth of a seminary on a new campus so expensively constructed. We all know that the buildings at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, were costly to construct. What kind of priorities and discipline were required to undertake such a project (at a time when the vast majority of the cost of the Seminaries came out of the Synod budget as opposed to the small pittance that flows from Synod to our colleges and seminaries. Today we do things on the cheap and our church body reflects this cost cutting mentality. The trouble with this is that God is not cheap but lavish with His grace and mercy, his grace and favor.
Third is the genuine sense of optimism and accomplishment that both flowed from the majestic campus constructed and the purpose of this great investment to train Pastors for the Church. Today the seminaries of the LCMS receive a pittance from the LCMS budget and do their own fund raising from a donor base of alumni, foundations, individuals, and an aging but well-heeled and pious demographic in Missouri. The honest truth is that there are complaints from all kinds of folks about the high cost of training Pastors, the wisdom of a seminary based educational model, the effectiveness of a deeply academic and theological curriculum, and the cost effectiveness of two seminaries. We look at these seminaries the way some folks look at the public school system – a costly expense that we do not want to bear and don’t think we need pay for anymore. What a sea change in our Church body!
Incidentally, take a gander at the positively jovial faces of the usually dour and sanguine folks like Franz Pieper! We have all looked at the photos of our Missouri for-bearers with relief that we do not look like them and this gives a very different view of some of those folks. BTW, did you ever hear the joke about this? Snow White, Tom Thumb, and Quasimodo are all sad at the prospect they are not the fairest of the ladies, smallest of the people, and ugliest of all. Their despair leads them to take their own lives and they appear before the pearly gates. St. Peter takes Snow White in and when she comes out, she is glowing. "I was the fairest of all the women!" St. Peter then takes Tom Thumb in and when he comes out, he is ecstatic. "I was the smallest of all the people of the world!" Finally Quasimodo is taken in but he takes much longer with St. Peter than the others. Finally when he comes out, his countenance is fallen and he is angry. "Who the heck is C. F. W. Walther?"
Lastly, I was struck by the lack of clerical collars on the many clergy and church officials on that video. In 1926, Lutheran Pastors looked more like business men than clergy. We are far more apt to see a clerical collar on a Lutheran Pastor today than in 1926 and this is true even given the fact that khakis and a polo shirt have become the defacto uniform of many Pastors (even in worship). That, given with the fact that most Lutheran congregations celebrated the Lord’s Supper only quarterly in 1926, makes me appreciate the work done by those who went before me. I am in the debt of those who dared to raise up a more catholic version of Lutheran identity and practice when it was suspect and controversial in the Church. Thanks be to God for those faithful Lutherans who read their Confessions not as an academic document or an historical one but as a blueprint for Lutheran parish identity and practice.
Follow the link to 'A Prayer for Concordia' from May 14, 2010. http://concordiatheology.org/