Thursday, July 15, 2010
Remembering Those Who Have Gone Before...
Sometimes it is easy to believe that the sun rises and sets upon us and upon this time and this moment. It is easy to believe that everything hinges upon this day and the decisions of this day. But remembering the saints of long ago and those of yesterday reminds us that for all that hits the news, there are faithful folk loving and serving the Lord faithfully, doing His bidding, and prospering His kingdom at every time, in every place.
These saintly folks are first of all sinners just like you and just like me. They served within the framework of their own faults and failings. Their stature does not need to be enlarged beyond their reality. For this is how God has chosen to build His Church and do the work of His Kingdom -- not through the perfect but through the forgiven, charting success not by numbers but by faithfulness.
While I do not intend to diminish or take anything away from those who serve the Church in visible positions of prominence, I do desire to raise up those who serve the Lord faithfully and fruitfully but largely hidden from the view of most. It happens in parishes and places off the map and too obscure to be well known. It happens through those who serve with a formal call and through those whose only call is their baptism. It happens on Sunday mornings and throughout the week, mostly anonymous but well known to the Lord of the Church.
If Missouri will prosper as a church body, it will be more because of the faithfulness of those unsung saints who labored in our past and still work today in obscurity and anonymity. It will be through the patient and untiring efforts of ordinary Pastors and folks in the pew, on the plains or in the city, who faithfully steward the resources God has supplied, witness to the good news of Jesus, pray fervently, and love deeply.
I am thrilled that the new President of the LCMS comes from a background of mercy work as well as theological acumen, with a pastoral heart as well as an administrative gift, with the ability to laugh and cry as well as sound, objective judgment. I hope that he makes us feel good again about this hidden work of the Lord that is still the means through which God builds His kingdom. I pray that instead of tearing down things small or marginal, things ordinary or routine, we learn to raise up the work and workers of the Lord. I hope and pray for a real renewed sense of vocation (both of the called and those baptized) that this work is important though often hidden, the arena of God as much as any other, and the place where God still provides and expects the best that we have.
In my humble opinion, if the new leaders of our Synod can inspire and encourage this work and these workers who operate off the radar screens of those who delight in size, innovation, and creativity, then our church body will be renewed from the bottom up. And this is, I believe, the most important work that those newly elected leaders can undertake. Sure, there will be questions and issues relating to actions taken at this convention, to a new structure to be fleshed out and implemented, to old problems still with us and new ones just on the horizon... there will be the press of meetings and the need for messages here, there, and everywhere. But under it all and through it all, we need to renew the work and renew the workers who labor unnoticed and without fanfare to do God's bidding and be His Church day in and day out, around an altar, a font, and a pulpit, where grace is found, grace feeds, grace defines, and grace accomplishes its Divine purpose.