Friday, February 1, 2013
Just one man. . .
Yet, it is remarkable what one individual can do when the focus is outward, when the cause is the larger work of the kingdom, and when that individual feels personally the burdens of others in need. The holidays always bring with them human interest stories of individuals or children who rally the rest of us to a noble cause. For the Lutheran Church, we have our own individuals who have stood larger than life. Henry Melchior Muhlenberg for some and for my own church, Johann Konrad Wilhelm Loehe.
Dr. C.F.W. Walther said of Loehe: “Next to God it is Pastor Loehe whom our synod must almost solely thank for the happy increase and rapid strengthening in which it rejoices; it must rightly honor him as its real spiritual father.” Imagine that -- one man who never ever visited America is both the physical and spiritual father of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod!
I borrow a paragraph from Pr Paul McCain.
Although he never left Germany, Johann Konrad Wilhelm Loehe, born in Fuerth in 1808, had a profound impact on the development of Lutheranism in North America. Serving as pastor in the Bavarian village of Neuendettelsau, he recognized the need for workers in developing lands and assisted in training emergency helpers to be sent as missionary pastors to North America, Brazil, and Australia. A number of the men he sent to the United States became founders of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. Through his financial support, a theological school was established in Fort Wayne, Ind., and a teachers’ institute in Saginaw, Mich. Loehe was known for his confessional integrity and his interest in liturgy and catechetics. His devotion to works of Christian charity led to the establishment of a deaconess training house and homes for the aged. Löhe, through study and reading of the classic sources of Lutheran theology: Scripture, the Confessions, Luther and the orthodox dogmaticians, reclaimed a deep love for the Lutheran Confessions, the liturgy and the chuch’s sacramental life and call to works of mission and charity. He was an ardent advocate of the primary place of the Small Catechism in the life of the Lutheran congregation, school and home and is perhaps most well known among us today as a catechist and founder of the Lutheran deaconess movement. I can only add to this that he produced a liturgy and agenda that has had profound impact upon the way Lutherans worship even to this present day!
My point here is not merely to laud Loehe but to point out what one individual can do. Imagine what he might have been able to accomplish had he the benefit of the technology, communication, and travel resources we take for granted! Do not discount what you can do for the good and noble cause of the Lord and His work! Instead of allowing the culture and trends of society to isolate us, we need to utilize these resources in our day to do the same kind of work that Loehe did a couple of centuries ago. We can make a difference. We do have opportunities. We have resources. The only question is whether or not we have the will and courage to put these into effect!